It’s here, it’s here! Light Beyond the Darkness, Lightbearer #3, is finally available for purchase! And conveniently for this month’s blog theme, Appetizing April, this book happens to be about a chef. Carley and Reid meet in – of all places – a restaurant, where she inadvertently attracts him with her special steak rub. Below is an excerpt from the beginning of the book. This is when Reid sees Carley for the first time… Let me know what you think!
He stopped and stared. Take away the magical sparks dancing over her skin, and he supposed she wasn’t particularly exceptional-looking. In fact, it appeared she was doing her best to downplay whatever positive attributes she might possess. The hair severely pulled away from her face, the lack of makeup, the oversize chef’s coat, all lay proof to his suspicions. He knew nothing of other magical beings, but he knew enough about females in general to know that they tended to play up what they considered their best features, not tone them down.
Despite this, Reid found himself attracted to her, even from halfway across the room, without so much as a word spoken between them.
He’d never considered that he might be attracted to a specific type of being. Until just a few months ago, he would have assumed his type was simply female shifter. Prior to this foray into the human world, he’d never lain with any females other than shifters. Human women were new to him, so he hadn’t yet determined if he desired a specific type of human female. And never in his wildest fantasies had he imagined he would run into a lightbearer and actually wonder, Is this my type?
She recognized his presence while he was still trying to come to terms with the reality of seeing a lightbearer in the flesh, standing a few feet away. The only other time that had happened was last summer, when Quentin Lyons had captured one, and his son then escaped with her. That had ultimately led to Quentin’s death, his pack being dispersed, and the various members being assigned to new, smaller packs. Reid had left before that occurred. He had no wish to learn the ways and rules of a new pack master. Not after what he’d gone through with the last one.
This experience was far different from Reid’s only other experience with a lightbearer. The last one had been a prisoner and had been sentenced to die, because Quentin believed that whoever killed her would inherit her magic. A shifter with magic above and beyond the ability to change forms at will. It was a heady concept.
This lightbearer was—apparently—the head chef at one of Chicago’s most popular restaurants. Living in the human world. He’d noticed no other trace of magic aside from hers, so he suspected she lived there alone, without the protection of others of her own kind. How had it taken Quentin forty years to find one, if they lived among the humans like this? If her steak was as good as Reid suspected it was, he could not fathom that a shifter or two had not stumbled across this particular restaurant before. Shifters loved their red meat, and considering their typically obsessive personalities, they would go to great lengths to try a delicious steak dinner.
At least Reid would.
In the space of a handful of heartbeats, she was surrounded by humans, both female and male, and none with particularly welcoming expressions on their faces.
“Hey, no civilians back here, buddy,” one human sharply announced. She had blue-black hair, heavy dark makeup, and piercings in every visible orifice. She reminded him a little of some of the female shifters he knew.
He was amused by the way she stood slightly in front of the lightbearer, almost as if she expected an attack. But surely not? All magical beings understood one overriding rule: never tell the humans about the magical side of your nature.
The lightbearer had yet to speak, although he could tell by her widened eyes, rapid breathing, and the stench of fear in the air that she knew precisely what he was.
“I only wanted to compliment the chef,” he said, his gaze fixed on the lightbearer.
She lifted a hand and cupped her narrow, smooth neck, as her eyes widened farther and her breathing escalated a notch or two.
“Usually people do that without actually leaving their seats,” the dark-haired human woman said. “And you need to get out of our kitchen. It’s a health-code violation for you to be back here.”
He could care less about anyone’s health except that lightbearer’s. He had no specific code, not anymore. And if there was to be any violating around here…
He stepped forward, extended his hand, and bowed his head slightly, not an act of submission, but an act of acknowledgment. I know you’re afraid. I don’t intend to hurt you.
She did not accept his gesture. If anything, she shrank away even more.
“Order—oh.” A server hustled through the swinging doors and then stopped short when she spotted Reid standing there. One of the other chefs extended his arm across the stainless-steel counter and snagged the meal ticket from her hand. Then he turned and shoved it at the lightbearer, clearly trying to pull her attention away from Reid.
“We need to get back to work, Carley,” he said. “The orders are starting to back up.”
Carley. Was that the lightbearer’s name? Reid continued to stand there, continued to watch her. Wisps of silver-blonde hair stuck out from under her chef’s hat, which was a tall, white paper contraption that perched at a jaunty angle on her head. While everyone else in the room looked sweaty and bordering on exhaustion, she looked as fresh as a spring breeze.
Magic. Only magic could keep someone looking so damn unaffected amidst the chaos of a popular restaurant kitchen on a Friday evening.
“I’d like to speak to you,” he said, his gaze never wavering. “Alone.”
She shook her head and accepted the ticket that was thrust into her hands. She looked down, read what was scribbled there, and finally spoke to him.
“That isn’t possible,” she said without looking up from the ticket. And then she apparently decided to act as if he wasn’t there, and began issuing orders to the humans, each one scrambling to do as she commanded.
It was fascinating to watch. Until the spunky human woman with the blue-black hair stepped in front of him and stood on her tiptoes so she could get in his face.
“Look, buddy. If you don’t leave our kitchen, we’re going to call the cops. Great meal or not, you don’t belong back here.” She glared at him, not intimidated in the least.
It was almost refreshing. Nearly everyone was intimidated by him, and he rarely bothered to disabuse people of the notion that he might strike them down at any moment. He rather liked the fact that most people—magical or otherwise—were too frightened or nervous to get close to him. He was not fond of personal contact.
“Carley,” he murmured, repeating the name he’d heard the human male say a moment ago. “Did she make my steak?”
“Yeah,” the woman said with obvious impatience. “She makes all the steaks here. It’s one of her specialties. Now, can you go back to your table?”
“What else does she do?”
She gave him a peculiar look. “What do you mean?”
“What other plates? What are her other specialties?”
“Oh.” The human considered his question for a moment. “She makes a mean beef stew,” she decided. “And duck. Amazing duck. And key lime pie. I know it sounds weird, because it seems like such a simple dish, but her key lime pie is just out of this world.”
Duck. He loved duck. “Key lime pie?” he repeated out loud. He didn’t often eat dessert. There usually wasn’t meat in dessert. “Maybe I’ll give it a try,” he decided, and then he asked, “How often does she work?”
“You’re awfully damned obsessed, you know that?”
“So I’ve been told.”
Intrigued? If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, I strongly suggest you read them first, as there are several overarching plots that make a lot more sense when you read them in order. Besides, according to the reviews, you’re bound to become addicted! Here’s the book info, in order:
Lightbearer Series by Tami Lund
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Thanks for reading! Be sure to check back tomorrow, when I feature another author and another yummy recipe on my Appetizing April Blog!