“Was it really necessary to shove his head up his own ass, Fauna?”
“Are you kidding me? It was the most satisfying snap of my fingers I’ve ever performed.”
Sitting in my father’s study, I examined my perfectly manicured nails… and hated them. They were perfect, shiny, and polished. Everything my father expected them to be. All the things I never wanted to be. God forbid I do or say anything that gave anyone the impression I did not live and breathe for the House of Coven Calpurnius.
What would the other witches and warlocks say?
Laughing to myself silently, I turned my mind back to my nails. The only evidence of my personality shown there in the color. Rich, scandalizing red. Not the demure pink hue my father would prefer a ‘lady of my station’ wear.
To hell with that shit.
We weren’t living in the old days where women were locked away in castles while the men went off to fight the dragons of the world.
I could slay my own damn dragons.
I had to get out from under my father’s thumb first. Until then, I was stuck in the role of the somewhat dutiful and respectful daughter.
As soon as I figured out how to escape this madness, I was never going to wear nail polish again. It had come to represent so much of my father’s world that I detested.
Absolutely hated to the core of my soul.
Almost as much as I hated the prick my father had just admonished me for ‘abracadabraeing’ his head right up his own ass. Frankly, I thought the guy deserved more than that for what he had said to me, but then, my father did like to side with his little brown noser whenever a conflict rose between us.
The study door clicked closed, and I knew now we could speak freely without being overheard. My father’s study was spelled with soundproofing magic that engaged the moment the door closed.
Dropping my hand to my lap, I sat there stoically while I waited for him to walk past the club chair I sat in as he moved to sit behind his desk facing me. It was a familiar scene. Him sitting behind that overly priced walnut desk of his—judging me.
Me, sitting in this ridiculously expensive chair he liked so much, pretending his constant censure of me, his only child, hadn’t killed something inside me a long time ago.
I firmly understood a saying I had read from my philosophy book on Voltaire, ‘It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.’
Afterall, how could I hate my father? I was flesh of his flesh, with the same blood flowing through my veins.
Truth was a nasty thing, though. Shining light on all the dark spaces a person would rather keep hidden from the world. The older I became, the more I understood how very little Sol Calpurnius was my father, and instead, realized he was nothing more than my sire.
A sperm donor.
Because fathers loved their children, didn’t they?
Sol wouldn’t know what love was if it slapped him in the face with a brick.
I had long grown from the child who yearned for her father’s affection, wrapped in the chains of an adolescent’s dreams, into the woman who knew she was fighting to rid herself of the filth of my begetter’s prison.
Even on a good day between my father and I, the thought of burning this sprawling fortress of a mansion he had built and furnished to every nuance of his whim with my mother’s inheritance until all he was left with was ashes invaded my mind.
If the old warlock only knew how close he had been at times to being homeless, he would probably kill me himself.
That was the sort of loving family we had become.
Steepling his hands in front of him, my father pursed his lips in disapproval as he studied me. “Can’t just go along to get along with Hannibal, can you, daughter?”
I took in his features, so similar to my own it was like looking into a masculine mirror. Skin that looked as if it has been kissed by the sun year-round, hair so dark brown it appeared black, and deep hazel eyes. The fact that I looked exactly like him, and nothing like my mother at all, only deepened my resentment toward his constant condemnation.
Shrugging my shoulders as if my father’s disapproval didn’t strike a silent blow to what little was left of my heart, I kept my mask of disinterest on my face. “Why should I? Hannibal the Cannibal is clearly your favorite, even if he isn’t your own flesh and blood.”
My father’s eyes crossed at my juvenile jab at his right-hand man. “Stop calling him that.”
Brushing an imaginary piece of lint off my jeans, I nodded. “Right, it’s time for a new name. How about Hannibal the Bannable? All you would have to do is get rid of his annoying ass and it would be true.”
Thoroughly annoyed now, he sighed, “Fauna—”
“No, no, I’ve got it this time! Hannibal the Animal. You really should teach him some obedience, though, if we call him that. I’m not sure he’s even housetrained.”
Father slapped his hand down on the top of his desk in frustration. “Fauna!”
“Hannibal the Dickhead, then?”
Shocked at the change, he blurted, “That doesn’t even rhyme.”
Leaning forward, I whispered, “No, but it’s the truth, whether you like it or not.”
Frustrated, he ran his fingers through his dark hair, then immediately started smoothing it back into place. God forbid anyone saw Sol Calpurnius, head Warlock of the Calpurnius Coven, anything less than perfect. People might mistake him for something close to ordinary and human, and that just wouldn’t do.
Refraining my overwhelming need to roll my eyes, I squinted at my father’s finishing touches to his appearance before he returned his attention to his ‘woefully wayward daughter’—me.
“I have never understood why you are so determined to dislike Hannibal.”
Cocking my head to the side, I spoke slowly and enunciated as if speaking to a small clueless child. “Beeee-cause he is an assssss-hole.”
Ignoring my sarcasm, he tried to steam roll right over me. His go-to tactic. “Perhaps if you would just accept his proposal of marriage, he would be more amenable.”
I wasn’t even shocked at this statement. I had heard it enough that the disbelief had turned into bitterness. Sitting back in my chair, I told my father the truth as bluntly as I could put it. “I would rather burn at the stake than marry that douche canoe.”
My father placed his hands flat on the desk in front of him, and this time, it was him who leaned forward to close the space between us. “You are my only heir. I expect you to make a good match, so I know this coven is in proper hands for the day I step down as head warlock.”
A shiver of unease ran down my back as I thought back to what the man in question had said to me just moments ago. I could still feel the taint of his breath on my earlobe from when he had whispered to me.
You’ll be mine whether you like it or not one day, Fauna… and when you are, I’ll make what happened to your mother seem like child’s play.
Since my mother had disappeared years ago under mysterious circumstances, this comment was more than unnerving. She had been pronounced dead a long time ago, hence why my father had control of her money, but her body was never found.
While I had suspected for years now that my father or Hannibal might have had something to do with her disappearance, I had never had any concrete evidence to confront them with. So, to hear Hannibal basically admit he was involved, and knew what had happened to my mother, made my stomach churn.
Sadly, that wasn’t what scared me the most, though.
My blood ran cold at his next comment
And when I get inside you for the first time, I’m going to tear up that nice, tight virgin pussy of yours so bad you’ll never want to see another dick again. Not that it will matter… because you will see mine repeatedly, whether you like it or not, until you produce me the sons I want. Even if I must hold you down and make you take it every time.
His threat made me want to puke.
It made me want to scrub my entire body in the shower with bleach under boiling hot water.
But it also made me so damn mad I wanted to chain him to a wall he couldn’t break free of, cut his dick off, decorate his body with a thousand more cuts just for the hell of it, and then sic feral vampires on him.
I couldn’t do any of those things, so I had done the only thing I could do and relatively get away with.
Shoved Hannibal’s head right up his very own ass with a snap of my fingers.
Would it kill him?
No. We witches and warlocks were harder to kill than that.
Not to mention, my spell had been cast to keep him alive and in pain.
Which he was.
Although, not in as much pain as I would like him to be. I’m sure having the equivalent of a bowling ball shoved up your ass hurt like hell.
Plus, the smell had to be a tad more than atrocious. Assholes like him did tend to be ‘full of shit,’ as the saying went.
However, he was still very alive, currently in the medical ward flailing around like a contortionist on crack, while the others sat around him watching and waiting for the spell to be broken.
Even though I wasn’t there in the medical ward, I knew no one would dare laugh at Hannibal out loud. It would only get them killed when he was back to normal. That didn’t mean they weren’t cackling on the inside.
That was the sort of people my father liked to surround himself with. Those who enjoyed others’ pain. My mother’s people left our coven home shortly after her death was declared, leaving me to live with a monster.
Granted, at the time, I was a little girl and I hadn’t realized my father was a monster. Now that I was older and wiser, though, I knew exactly what I was living with—evil.
Pure evil, to be exact.
Every single one of them in this coven.
The only reason I wasn’t worried about retribution from Hannibal for what I had just done to him was because he wouldn’t dare lay a hand on me until I was officially his.
As far as I was concerned, that was never going to happen.
Not because I knew I could sway my father from sanctioning a union between Hannibal and myself, but because I didn’t plan on staying around long enough to let him do it.
So, why was I still here?
For the very reason I was sitting in a chair across from my father arguing with him, instead of running for the hills.
I was his only heir… and he would never let me go.
If I ran away, he would only bring me back.
I was stuck in this hell until I could find someone strong enough to help get me out of it.
Someone who would be willing to stand up against my father.
God, I hoped I found that person soon.
Wanting this farce of a loving father-daughter talk to be over, I picked up my hand and started examining my nails again. Sighing wearily, I told my father the same thing I had been telling him for the past two years. “I’m never going to marry your little handyman, so you might as well get over it. You told me I had a year to choose a worthy husband, and I still have six months left.” Tsking him with my tongue, I set my hand down and looked him square in the eye as I used what I liked to call my spoiled princess routine. “Daddy dearest wouldn’t go back on his word, would he?” I added a small pout when I was done for extra effect.
Sol Calpurnius cocked an unamused eyebrow at my antics. “Six months, Fauna, and not a moment more. If at the end of six months, you have not produced a worthy candidate to be your husband, I will let Hannibal have you whether you want it or not. Am I understood?”
I ignored the way my stomach soured at the notion my father would just hand me over to that monster and not bat an eye. Now was not the time or the place to show emotion.
Rising to my feet, I made my way to the office door, but looked back over my shoulder at my father before I put my hand on the doorknob. “Consider it a matter soon to be solved, Father. I’m headed to the annual ball in New Orleans, and I plan to come back with a suitable match for your approval.”
Opening the door, I stepped through and slammed it closed on my way out.
Something I knew would make my father irate, but I no longer cared.
I might be a mouse trapped in a maze, but that didn’t mean I had to be a meek one.
I was going to claw and bite my way out of this hellhole if it was the last thing I did.