Home > The Bewitching Hour (Valorian Chronicles #4.5)

The Bewitching Hour (Valorian Chronicles #4.5)
Author: Vivi Anna

Chapter 1

There were only ten minutes until the wedding ceremony. Hector Morales shut the hotel room door behind him, tucking the key card into the inside pocket of his suit jacket, and walked swiftly down the wide, opulent corridor to the bank of elevators. Luckily, the Necropolis Grand Hotel had eight elevators serving the huge lavish hotel. He hoped at least one of them would get him to the penthouse suite in time. He really didn’t want to be late for Lyra and Theron’s wedding.

After pressing the up button, he sat in one of the red velvet high-backed chairs to wait. He smoothed down the wrinkle on his gray trousers and cursed himself for not getting here earlier. His suit needed pressing, and he likely needed a shave. He rubbed a hand over his chin, already feeling the first prickles of stubble. But the phone call from the office in San Antonio had delayed him and he’d had no time for personal grooming.

The sheriff had called him about a missing person case his crime scene investigative team was working on. As usual, the sheriff had called to chew him out. It still surprised him he had a job after that fiasco in San Antonio, when Caine Valorian’s forensic team, from Necropolis, came out to help him on a mysterious murder case. The murder had been solved; and it was discovered to be part of a series of rituals that a very powerful vampiress was conducting in order to open a portal to hell. She ended up being a demon of all things.

Hector still had trouble believing that all of that had happened. Vampires, lycans, witches, these were the types of people who lived and worked in the city of Necropolis. He was both pleased and perplexed to call some of them, namely Caine’s crime scene team, his friends. Enough so, that he was attending the wedding of Lyra, who was a witch, to a half vampire/half witch named Theron, who hailed from the Otherworlder European city of Nouveau Monde.

Sometimes it got really confusing keeping everyone’s species straight.

The elevator arrived. When the doors slid open, Hector walked into the plush mirrored elevator for the twenty-floor ride. His room was on the tenth floor and the wedding was in the penthouse suite in a tropical-themed atrium. A night wedding. He liked them around this time. It seemed more romantic to him. It was no surprise, though, that the wedding was taking place after the sun went down. Many of the guests were vampires and couldn’t tolerate the bright light for very long.

The elevator stopped on the thirteenth floor. The hoteliers obviously weren’t superstitious. The door slid open, but no one came on. Shrugging, Hector pushed the close-door button. But before it could slide shut, a slim pale hand stopped it. The door bounced open again from the intrusion, and a tall, slender woman in a lavender dress stepped into the elevator.

Her hair was as red as a Texas sunset, and it swirled around her in long, perfect curls. It shone in the muted elevator light, and Hector had a terrific urge to reach out and caress one of those perfect spirals. He actually had to fist his hand tight against his leg to stop from doing just that.

She glanced at him and smiled. “Good evening.”

He just nodded, ill at ease. He was usually quite comfortable around people. He’d worked in law enforcement long enough to be confident and sure in his position. But nerves zapped through his body the second the woman entered the elevator. The air seemed thick around him, and he was having a difficult time breathing. Was it just because she was an Otherworlder? Or was it because she was breathtakingly beautiful?

She looked at him again. “Are you going to Lyra and Theron’s wedding?”

Her eyes were as green as fresh spring grass. He didn’t think a color like that could exist in someone’s eyes. Knowing he was staring, likely impolitely, he cleared his throat and lowered his gaze. “Yes,” he finally managed to say. His throat was tight and he pulled at his tie. The temperature in the elevator was definitely rising.

“I’m Fiona Woodland, Lyra’s estranged cousin.” She stuck out her slim, elegant hand toward him.

He glanced down at it and almost had a panic attack. He couldn’t touch her and survive. He knew the feel of her skin against his was going to bring him to his knees. But he didn’t want to appear rude.

Cautiously, he grasped her hand. Her skin was cool in his. It actually had a calming effect on him and he sighed. Then smiled. “Estranged?”

“Did I say estranged? I meant just plain old strange.” She released his hand.

He laughed at her odd statement. Normally people just didn’t come out and say things like that to others they just met.

“I highly doubt that,” he said.

“Wait ten minutes and I’m sure you’ll change your mind.”

He didn’t know what to say to that, so he went with an introduction instead. “I’m—”

“Hector Morales. You’re a human from the crime lab in San Antonio.”

He was startled by her admission. Was she a mind reader? He knew some witches had telepathic or telekinetic powers. Gwen, who worked in the Necropolis crime lab, could move things with her mind. “Yes, that’s right. But how did you know that?”

She took a step back. It was small, but he noticed it. “Ah, Lyra must’ve told me. I’m sure she’s mentioned you once or twice before. You worked with Eve.”

“That’s right. Were you at Eve and Caine’s wedding? I think I would’ve remembered if you had been.”

She shook her head. “I’m not from Necropolis.”

A hint of disappointment at her statement seemed to settle in his gut. He was hoping that she was from the city or from somewhere nearby. Not that he was already thinking of seeing her again.

Her attention returned to the bank of floor lights on the elevator. “I hope we make it to the top.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s nothing really. It’s just that I seem to have a little problem around—”

That’s when the elevator shuddered to a complete stop. The lights flickered threateningly, went off, and then flashed back on again.

Hector looked up at the floor indicators. They were stuck on floor twenty-nine. One floor beneath where they should’ve been.

He looked at Fiona. “You were saying?”

She looked sheepish. “Ah, I seem to have a wee bit of a problem around electricity.”

“Meaning?”

She scrunched up her nose. “We’re stuck in the elevator?”

It would’ve made him smile if they weren’t stuck twenty-nine stories up. Now her previous statement seemed to make more sense.

Hector opened the emergency panel along the side and grabbed the red phone. It had a direct line to the front desk. Except when he put it to his ear, it made no noise. No dial tone, no ringing. It was as dead as the elevator. He glanced at Fiona and she shrugged.

After replacing the handset, he reached into his jacket pocket and came away with his cell phone. He flipped it open. He couldn’t get a signal. He held it up, thinking that would somehow work.

“Yeah, that probably isn’t going to work, either.” She glanced up at the flickering lights.

“At least we still have light.”

That’s when they flickered for the last time and went out. It was completely dark in the elevator.

“Damn it.” Hector’s pulse started racing. It wasn’t that he was afraid of the dark, it was just he preferred some light. It was like being blind, and that was one of his greatest fears. He had a cousin who had been blinded in an industrial accident. He’d seen how much his life had to change.

He could sense movement beside him. Fiona was doing something. Within moments of thinking that, a pale green glow emerged in the middle of the elevator. After the glow intensified, Hector realized it wasn’t just floating in air but hovering above Fiona’s right hand.

“It’s witchlight. It’s one of the first spells witches learn.” Her eyes widened when she looked at him. “Are you all right, Hector? You seem a bit edgy.”

Edgy, she says. I’m stuck in an elevator with a gorgeous lunatic. “I’m fine. Except for the fact that we’re not getting out of this elevator any time soon.”

“Oh I’m sure someone on the ground floor has realized we’re stuck. This happens to me every once in a while. That’s why I waited so long to go up to the roof. I was hoping no one else was going to be in the elevator.” She smiled sympathetically at him. “Sorry.”

She looked so earnest when she said it, he couldn’t help feel sympathy for her. It was his own darn fault for being late, anyway. “It’s okay. I’ve been in worse jams than this.”

The elevator took that moment to shudder and groan, proving his statement false. This had just turned into a bad situation.

Hector glanced up at the ceiling. There was a loud, frightening creaking sound coming from up top. It almost sounded like the cables were giving. Which he thought was impossible, not in an expensive hotel like this.

“Oh, I don’t like that sound one bit.” Fiona wrapped her free arm around her body.

“Me, neither.”

Hector started pushing any and all buttons on the elevator panel. But nothing worked. Nothing lit up and there was still no response from the front desk.

“You don’t think the cables will break, do you?” Fiona’s voice was very small. Hector glanced at her and saw the fear on her face.

“I wouldn’t think so.” He reached over to grab her hand. She smiled when he squeezed it.

“We’ll be fine.”

But again the scary groaning sound came at them from outside of the elevator.

Squeezing his hand hard, Fiona pulled him closer. He could feel her body quake. “I didn’t do this, did I? My horoscope said my day would be full of ups and downs.”

He shook his head. “No, of course not. Unsteady cables have nothing to do with electricity.” At least, he didn’t think so. But darn it, he didn’t know anything about elevators. He could very well be telling her a bunch of crap.

And because he couldn’t be sure, they needed to get out of the elevator before those ominous sounds grew louder and more assertive in their intent—as in breaking apart. Although he was sure there were things in place to prevent an elevator from plummeting to the first floor, he really didn’t feel like waiting for that to play out.

   
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