The Magician’s Blood, Book 2
“Unforgettable and gutsy. Linda G. Hill is a force to be reckoned with.” ~ Jessica Cale, bestselling author of Tyburn.
He who wants the rose must respect the thorn. ~ Persian Proverb
Herman Anderson is in love. Thrilled to travel across Canada with her boyfriend as his assistant onstage, she returns to her hometown—the first stop on the Great Dagmaru magic tour. Anticipating a reunion with her brother, instead she finds her family has moved without a trace.
Stephen Dagmar’s career as a stage magician is taking off. With Herman by his side, his only concern is her father’s dislike for him. But as Herman’s father makes a prediction and resolves to come between them, Stephen’s family curse returns to haunt him.
Darkness descends as the reality of the Dagmar’s incubus bloodline surfaces for the first time in over a generation. Can Herman and Stephen’s relationship survive this new trial? Will Herman survive at all?
A sinful tale of beauty and romance, love and determination, The Magician’s Blood will chill you and leave you breathless for more.
*18+ Contains explicit scenes.
Coming August 10th to Kindle and Kobo for $4.99. Or get it now for the special pre-order price of $2.99 here.
Paperback available soon.
*May spoil part of the mystery of Book 1, The Magician’s Curse.
Proceed with caution.
Nina Curry sat on her bed, staring at the posters lining the walls of her room. They depicted The Great Dagmaru—the magician, the father of her unborn child. Her Master, Stephen Dagmar.
How had things gone so wrong? The walk back home from “the station,” which was an actual displaced train station on the back of Master’s property where he rehearsed his stage shows, had been a hand-wringing experience. She’d gone there hoping to find him, but instead she had found Miss Anderson. Herman. The bitch with a man’s name who had taken her Master from her. Nina had just been about to go in and confront the woman when she heard hoofbeats. Her Master on his black horse, galloping out to the station.
She’d watched, undetected, from the corner of the building as Master had vaulted off the horse and run into the building. He’d spoken briefly to Miss Anderson and then he had laid her down on the bench in the waiting room and their clothes had disappeared, just like that. Nina had turned away as they began to make love, fuming that it wasn’t her and dreaming that it was at the same time.
But it was the last straw.
Master and the bitch, his stage assistant, were scheduled to leave for the start of their tour tomorrow. But they would return. And when they did, Nina was determined she’d get rid of the bitch once and for all.
Then her Master—Stephen Dagmar, The Great Dagmaru—would be hers and hers alone.
Herman Anderson got out of her seat before the train came to a stop. Tapping her foot and tightly clutching the shoulder strap of her backpack, she felt a hand gently enclose hers and she relaxed a fraction. She looked down into the eyes of her boyfriend, Stephen Dagmar, and her muscles gave in a bit more to the comfort she found in his touch.
“I know what you’re going to say,” she said with a sigh.
He raised one perfect black eyebrow. “That no matter what you find when you get home, we’ll deal with it?”
“You’re not going to get off this train before they open the doors?”
“That I love you?” He smiled then, and her nerves ceased their vibration.
“I love you too.”
She squeezed his hand to steady herself as the train finally came to a grinding halt at the Ottawa Via Rail station.
Standing on the platform, she watched the tall, handsome magician, dressed in the finest black clothes money could buy, retrieve their luggage. She breathed in the muggy late-spring air and purposefully ignored the half-dozen women who stared at him with their mouths agape. Because she could do that now. Stephen had eyes only for her. He turned to find her in the dispersing crowd and smiled affectionately at her.
They walked together hand in hand through the station to the other side where, amidst the odor of diesel, they found a black limo waiting for them.
The driver came around and said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Dagmar,” but Herman barely heard Stephen’s response. She got into the car and slid halfway across the back seat. Stephen settled himself beside her and grasped her hand, lifting it to his lips to kiss it.
“Have you decided whether you want to go to the hotel first? Or would you rather go straight home and see your mom?”
The question pained her as thoughts of her mother had since they’d left the Dagmar mansion in Kingston, Ontario that morning. It was as hard to go home as it had been to leave, and that was a decision she’d struggled with until suddenly the perfect opportunity had arisen: a live-in job, a chance for a better life for her, and eventually her brother, Chad. Her goal had been to force their father to step up and come home to look after Chad and their disabled mother. It all made sense to her at the time, but in the end, it had done no good: her dad hadn’t come home to stay. And since she’d been unable to get ahold of her little brother in weeks, she’d been doubting the wisdom of leaving home. Even though doing so had led her to Stephen.
“Herman?” Stephen’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts.
“Am I a coward if I say I’d rather go to the hotel and call my mom before coming face to face with her?”
Stephen shook his head.
“Let’s do that, then. It’s probably for the best anyway. If my mother sees you for the first time all in black, nail polish and all—” She lifted his hand to the level of her face. “You might give her a heart attack.”
He gave her the lopsided smile she’d grown to love. “I’ll buy some blue jeans just for the occasion.” Stephen reached for the phone to speak to the driver, but Herman stopped him with a hand on his arm.
“Can we just drive by the house, though? And Chad’s friend’s place, too. Maybe I’ll get a clue as to why they’re not answering the phone.”
“Sure,” Stephen said. He glanced at his watch. “We still have four hours before we have to be at the venue for rehearsal.” He gave the driver the address, and the car began to move.
Sitting back, he put his arm around her shoulders: it didn’t help the nerves that once again thrummed in her system. She watched out the window as the limo turned east onto the highway, toward her old neighborhood.
“You did the right thing, you know.”
“It’s like you read my mind sometimes,” Herman said, shifting her gaze to the interior of the car. She looked into his eyes, at his mahogany irises glowing in the dimness of the car, and her nerves melted under his gaze once again.
“How do you do that?”
“Read your mind?” he asked.
“No. Take away all my qualms like that.”
“It’s magic, my love. The magic of us.”
She leaned back into his embrace, to enjoy the closeness of his body, the movement of his breathing.
When they merged off the Queensway and onto Montreal Road, she sat up again. People walking along the sidewalk turned to stare at the limo, straining their eyes to see who was inside. The car turned onto her street, and she caught sight of the house she’d grown up in. She gasped.
“What is it?” Stephen asked, following her gaze.
“The house is up for sale. Stop the car.”
She got out and stood, frozen, beside the limo. The house was vacant. Even the curtains were gone. When she circled the For Sale sign on the lawn, she saw a Sold sticker on the opposite side.
Stephen followed her around the corner in the direction of Jason’s house. She knocked on the door and waited, but nobody came.
Herman turned to face Stephen with her heart in her throat. “Where can they be?” She blinked back tears as he reached out to hold her.
“Do you want to call your dad?”
“I guess I have no choice. But what if he tells me I have to go to wherever he’s moved them, and look after them again? What if I have to quit being your assistant and move out? What if …”
“It’s okay, my love,” he said, interrupting her. “We’ll figure out the best course of action when we know what’s going on. The alternative is to see if we can get the information by other means. He doesn’t have to know where you are yet.”
She looked up at him. “How would you do that?”
“Margaret is friends with your dad’s agent. Maybe he knows what’s going on. Or maybe he can weasel the truth out of your dad.”
Stephen’s best friend and agent, Margaret, had become a good friend and confidant to Herman in the months since they’d met. Herman had no doubt Margaret could find out where her family had gone. But that solution felt wrong somehow.
“No,” she said. “I have to face up to someone. It may as well be my dad.”
Stephen rubbed her arms and she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. She dialed her father’s number and waited. A voice came on to say the line was no longer in service.
She pocketed her phone, frustrated.
“I’ll call Margaret,” Stephen said, knowing by the look on her face what had happened.
“Oh, Stephen.” The tears were threatening to return. “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t left …”
He looked her in the eye, his expression both stern and loving. “This is not your fault. You did the best you could. Your mother and Chad were your dad’s responsibility, not yours. If he’d been honest with you about what he does for a living, maybe you’d have decided differently, but he wasn’t. If anyone is at fault, it’s him. You have to believe that.”
Herman nodded, and Stephen took her hand.
“Let’s go back to the car. We’ll get to the bottom of this and find out where your family is.”
* * *
Stephen nodded at the limo driver and climbed into the car behind Herman, his phone already in his hand. He hit speed dial to call Margaret. She was already in town to oversee the arrival of the props and the stage crew.
“What’s up?” she answered after the second ring.
He gazed into Herman’s worried eyes as he spoke. “I need to get ahold of George Anderson. Can you get his number from Paul’s agent?”
The magician Paul Whitmore was a showman of little talent. The real magic came from his crossdressing assistant, George, Herman’s father. Also known as Mona Lisa onstage.
Without asking why, Margaret said she would get right on it and they hung up.
Stephen took Herman’s hand, dreading the discussion he was about to suggest.
“We need to talk about your dad.”
Herman frowned. “What about him?”
“He doesn’t like me. It started when he showed up at a performance I did at a private party in Japan. I wasn’t expecting anyone who knew magic to be there, so I took some liberties. I used real magic.”
“That was a bit risky, don’t you think? Considering you don’t want anyone to know you have real magical powers.”
Stephen’s hand went up to his mouth involuntarily, and he found a nail to chew on. “More risqué than risky.”
Herman’s shoulders dropped, and she breathed out heavily through her nose. “Okay, what else are you not telling me?”
“What do you mean?” He did his best to look innocent, to delay the inevitable tale, but it would be better coming from him than her father.
“I know you, Stephen Dagmar. You’re biting your nails.”
He looked out the window at the traffic they were stuck in. There were no answers out there. “Okay, fine. I levitated my assistant.”
“How did you expect anyone not to notice you were levitating at a party? For God’s sake stop biting your nails and tell me what you don’t want to tell me,” Herman said, crossing her arms and shifting away from him so she could see him better.
Stephen smiled nervously. “No one ever really questioned the levitation because it wasn’t what they were concentrating on, in particular,” he said. “Yuka was a contortionist among other things.”
Herman raised her eyebrows, waiting.
“She was also an exhibitionist. The show was done, for the most part, in the nude. Once she was naked, I levitated her over the guests,” he cleared his throat, “and then down onto myself.”
“You were naked, too?”
“You had sex onstage?”
“It was very artfully done,” he said. “It was more about the dance and the movement than the sex, and there was still a lot left to the imagination.”
Herman looked at him, doubtfully.
Stephen crossed his arms to force himself to stop chewing. “Anyway, your dad has an idea that I might have actually hypnotized everyone in the room to believe that they were seeing something they weren’t.”
“Huh. That still doesn’t explain why my dad doesn’t like you.”
“It doesn’t for me either. We were working on a circuit at the time, often at the same venues on different nights, but we bumped into each other often. We hung out for a few weeks before the party—your dad and Paul and a few other magicians—but after the night of the party, whenever we got together, George started trying to get my assistant alone. She said he wasn’t coming on to her or anything like that, but he was glued to her.
“Then the tour finished in Japan, but apart from running into him a few times in the states last year, I didn’t see him again until I ran into him shortly after I met you.”
“There’s more …” Stephen took her hand in his and rubbed her knuckles with his thumb. She didn’t need more worry, but more than that, she didn’t need any further surprises. “I may have been a little bit responsible for antagonizing him when I saw him a couple of months ago, after you disappeared from home.”
Herman looked resigned. “What did you do?” she asked with a sigh.
“It’s not as much what I did. In my own defense, you didn’t want him to know where you were.”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll give you that. Keep going.”
“He told me, in so many words, to go find myself another assistant to have sex with.”
“And what did you say to that?”
“I kind of laughed and walked away.”
“Oh for fuck sakes, Stephen. So what you’re telling me now is not only did he hate you before, he’s going to—”
Stephen’s phone rang. “That’ll be Margaret.” He answered the call.
“George wanted to know why you needed his number,” Margaret said.
“You didn’t …”
“No. His agent didn’t even talk to him. I still don’t know how he knew, and Jack’s as mystified as I am. Anyway, I’ve got the number.”
“Text it to me? I don’t have anything to write on.”
“Will do. Is everything okay? You sound upset.”
“I’ll explain later.”
Stephen hung up. He shifted closer to Herman and looked out the window in the direction she was gazing. They were sitting in traffic downtown, close to the war memorial at the top of Elgin Street.
“Do you think we’ll meet my dad at the magician’s conference next year?”
“I’ve only been inside the National Arts Centre once. To watch a kids’ show of some kind. I remember being in awe of the place.”
“It will be even more awesome with you on the stage.”
She turned and kissed him gently on the lips.
“What was that for?” he asked.
“For supporting me. This isn’t going to be an easy conversation, is it?”
“No. But we’ll deal.”