Wiccan | iii

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Nerina moved to another village where she found work at the local tavern, pouring drinks for the rowdy bastards who left their wives at home to drink with women sitting on their chubby laps. It was a small enough village with enough kind faces to make her comfortable. No one asked questions. No one meddled and the men pretty much stayed out of her way when she gave them a nasty scowl. It had been almost fourteen days in this new place and she was slowly adjusting.

Tonight she was working behind the counter. Stale ale and cheap whiskey with the occasional shot of bourbon where the top of the menu. It was a mundane job but one that held a bit of normalcy for her. Nerina would never truly blend in but at this point, she was more concerned about standing out. Their nightly activities surrounded dancing and drinking not tying each other to the stake but humans were fickle.

"A beer. Not the cheap piss kind."

Nerina's back was turned to the voice that made the order. She knew his scent, she knew his voice. She cursed under her breath as she faced him with a ready smile. It never touched her eyes.

"Drink what we have or take your business elsewhere."

"Another oddity," he said more to himself than to her but she heard his words as clearly as if he had spoken directly to her.

"Ale. Whiskey. Bourbon." She gave him his options hands crossed at her chest. Nerina knew the top of her dress showed an ample amount of bosom. A requirement of her work attire.

"Bourbon."

She got to pouring him his drink. Nerina was anxious for him to leave. He not only knew what she was but he was a witch. Consorting with one was also punishable by death. They would have to catch her to kill her but she was growing accustomed to the routine she had in this village. Nerina craved structure, stability, being able to stay in one place for as long as she felt like. When she left it would be because she was bored or just ready to move on. It would be her choice.

In one gulp he downed it slamming the thick glass on the counter. Not once since she gave him the drink did his eyes leave her. It made her uncomfortable.

"What do you want?"

"Another." He knew what she meant though he dodged the question. He knew what he wanted. Wanting it was a problem. Having it would be a challenge. He knew he shouldn't but rules were always lost on him.

Nerina poured him another before taking up a pitcher and moving from behind the counter. He watched as she moved around the room with a pleasant smile. Though she appeared open none of the men touched her. Just as well, if one had, his hand would have rotted and fallen to the ground. The superstitious heretics had no idea what real magic looked like.

Pitcher empty, Nerina had no choice but to go back behind the counter. The witch whose name she did not know was the only one sitting there. She had felt his eyes following her around the room. If her stomach fluttered at the thought of his attention it was due to her annoyance rather than her being nervous. Nerina went about her business as normally as she could, ignoring him. He said nothing as he sat there staring. If the man wanted to look it was his eyes, she told herself. There was nothing she could do but poke them out and he had the power to have her flat on her face with just a thought.

With a filled pitcher she was back out among the tables. She saw when the busty blonde went over to him running a finger down his arm as she turned up the charm. Charity was coveted among the men. Pale as snow with generous curves, a sultry laugh and a sexual appetite that could keep a man busy for days, Charity left all her customers pleased.

Back behind the counter, she ignored the banter between the two tuning them out completely. Well, she tried to tune them out becoming annoyed at her agitated reaction towards them. She wanted the man gone but was severely bothered by the attention he was giving the other woman.

"Elizabeth," she called to the other woman behind the counter with her. "I'm going to take my break now."

Elizabeth or Beth as most people called her smiled and nodded as Nerina removed her apron folding and tucking it into a section under the counter. Opening the side door that led outside the cool of the air washed over her, taking her earlier agitation with it. Nerina held her head back enjoying the coolness against her skin. She had felt as if she had been suffocating. She stiffened when his breath, warm and sweet went spreading across her neck. How had he gotten so close without her noticing?

"Why won't you leave me alone?"

"Because I want you," he answered simply.

She felt her breath hitch in her throat at his response.

"Charity not enough to keep you occupied." There was a bit of snap to her voice she hadn't expected. Her agitation was back.

"She's human. She would never be able to keep up with my—appetite."

Nerina couldn't control her breathing or the itching that was starting under her skin. "You should go."

"And why is that?"

He remained close behind her, his heat replacing the cool of the night. Nerina was not some naïve maiden but this man, this witch. The man smelt like sin. She knew he would taste just the same. Nerina felt her fangs lengthen at the thought of tasting him.

"No." She moved away from him hands covering her mouth as she stood to face him. The distance between them was nothing for both of them to close.

"I know what you are just as well as you know what I am."

"Please, leave me alone."

He frowned at her obvious distress. He bowed then he was just – gone. Nerina spun in circles looking around her but there was nothing. Not even his scent lingered. He was gone as if he had been nothing but a figment of her imagination the entire time. Hand on her chest she didn't feel a rapidly beating heart but she felt her heavy breathing in the rise and fall of it. Closing her eyes, she focused on slowing down her breathing before she went back inside to finish her shift.

The last to leave Nerina had the place cleaned and chairs stacked before she locked up. Outside she inhaled the crisp night air fanning out her senses to take in the night. She needed to hunt before she went to ground. Inside the trees leading away from the village, she felt the slight brush of fingers in her hair. There was nothing there when her hand flew up to touch it. She swirled around and saw no one. When she looked around again the man was standing an arm's length away. The fact that she had not sensed him once again bothered her. He reached out without saying anything to touch the tip of a braid that was lying over one of her shoulders.

"I told you to leave me alone," she skirted around him to continue walking. Another sensation of fingers ran across the top of her dress over the swell of her breast. She stopped looking down knowing there would be nothing there to see.

"Touch me again," she said looking around, "and I will rip your throat out."

With no haste, hands behind his back, he walked towards her. "I thought you said you didn't feed on humans."

Nerina had him against a tree by the throat.

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