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"Help me sit up, please," I said in a raspy voice.

"Just a little. The doctors don't want you moving around. You have a lot of stitches," he said.

He wore a black t-shirt stretched tight over his chest. His hair fell in waves around his face. The look in his greenish-gray eyes said that he was worried. I breathed in his scent of vanilla musk and felt my body tighten. Okay, so I was hot for Paris. I always was, but I just wasn't ready to do anything about it right now.

Just then, the door opened. Ronan, Caleb, Blaze, and Connor walked in. The scent of jasmine, lavender, and hyacinth came with them, like a summer garden. Blaze's magick danced along my skin as my brother walked to me, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. He wore a royal blue sweater with stone washed jeans. His short brown hair looked like it needed combing, but he'd probably spent hours styling it to look just so.

"You should have your ass kicked. Thank you for saving my life," he said with a grin.

"You're okay then?" I asked, staring into his ice blue eyes, a perfect match to my own.

"I'm fine. I don't think there will be any lasting effects from what Palmira did to me," Blaze answered with a big grin that showed off his dimples. I nodded. He'd answered my next question before I could ask it. A bad habit between us.

I looked at Ronan. He wore black linen pants that he'd tucked into knee-high black suede boots. His periwinkle silk shirt looked fabulous with his violet eyes. His hair was longer and wavier than when I saw it last. The chocolate brown hair had magickally changed lengths.

"How's Alex?" I asked him.

"He is well. In the spring, he will have to travel to New Orleans. There is a voodoo priestess there who will teach him to control his magick, so he will not go mad. But it will take time for him to get used to the fact that he is a lycan and cannot change it," Ronan explained. I loved his Irish accent. Okay, Logan, keep your head on business.

"What did the Elders say?" I asked. "And can someone get me a drink? This d.a.m.n IV isn't helping anything." Paris poured me some water. I guess it was better than nothing, although I'd have preferred a Diet

"I spoke to Adrian a day ago. After much deliberation, there will be no disciplinary actions taken against us. In fact, there was much praise for ridding the Elders of Palmira. Apparently she had become an embarrassment to them," Ronan said. His expression said he was shocked by the Elders' reaction.

It p.issed me off that the Elders hadn't taken care of Palmira themselves. Well, shit rolls down hill. I was supposed to be happy that we wouldn't be punished for killing Palmira, but the Elders should've had the b.a.l.l.s to do it themselves. Yeah, not!

Looking at Ronan now, I realized I was okay for now - with being the reincarnation of his wives from over the centuries. Strange feelings for him kept popping up and they confused the h.e.l.l out of me. But, I'd learn to deal with it. I couldn't change who I am or had been.

"How's Sam?" I asked Paris.

"She's out of the coma, but she can't walk. The doctor can't find anything wrong with her physically. It's all in her head. Other than that she's fine," he explained. "When she's ready, she'll walk again."

The nurse came by and cleared out the room. She said something about me needing to rest. I told her I wanted one person to stay with me and there was a lot of arguing. I won! Paris gladly volunteered to stay. He stayed until I was discharged later that day. The hospital was ecstatic to get rid of me. I'm not a good patient.

Before we left the hospital, Paris took me to see Sam. Her room looked just like mine, except with more monitors. She looked so fragile lying there. She stared out of the window the whole time we were there, never saying a word, but I knew she could hear us.

"Hi Sam. I just wanted to see how you were doing before I left," I said. She said nothing. She didn't even look at me. Paris wheeled me close enough that I could touch her hand. She felt cold. "I'll be back in a few days to see how you're doing." I could feel a lump forming in my throat but I wouldn't cry.

The ride home wasn't bad, but then, I slept most of the way. It felt wonderful to be in my own home again. It felt like I'd been away much longer. The day I got home, I used the card to contact the Keeper again. Within an hour, he was at my house. He still wore black jeans tucked into black moccasins, and a black cotton t-shirt under a black leather trench. I wondered if he had stock in black clothes. He carried a black backpack on his shoulder.

"Since you're not at full strength, we will need a second natural witch," the Keeper said, placing the backpack on the floor. Did he know what he was asking? There are only a handful of natural witches in the world. Five to be exact.

"There are only three natural witches in the United States. My brother is the only one close," I said, sitting down stiffly. The other was in Salem. I called Blaze and he agreed to do the ritual, despite my worries about his ordeal with Palmira. I wasn't convinced he was back at full strength himself. I knew I was an overprotective sister, and I would have to let go sooner or later.

"Okay, explain how the ritual works," I requested while we waited for Blaze.

The Keeper slid the backpack around and opened it. He pulled out one of the scrolls. I knew we would need it to put the Dracae back. The next thing the Keeper pulled out of the pack was a large blue geode orb, about the size of a small cantaloupe. He held it in both hands.

"I don't think I've seen anything like that before," I said. I could feel magick pulsating from the orb without even touching it.

" several thousand years old," he said, handing it to me.

The orb was rough and cool to the touch. It definitely had a strong magick feel to it. I handed it back to the Keeper just as there was a knock at the back door.

"Got it," Caleb called. I heard the door open and close.

Blaze walked into the room. "I'm ready to do this," he said.

The Keeper, Blaze and I got ready to do the ritual in the woods behind my house. I picked up my new black leather trench. Jack, a.k.a. Sheriff Cooper, had trashed my other coat. Blaze was nice enough to help me get the coat on. I was still very sore and had many stitches, but I was at least up and moving around.

We filed out the back door and through the back yard. I live in the middle of nowhere, so I really didn't have to worry about any neighbors freaking out about rituals I did in my woods. It was a nice day. Even now at dusk, the temperature felt warm compared to what it had been. Blaze helped me hike the twenty minutes to reach my sacred circle. Thankfully, the Keeper took pity on me and walked slowly.

"Logan, you stand there, and Blaze, you stand over there," the Keeper said. He would be directing the ritual. He placed both pieces of the blue orb on the ground in the middle of the circle we'd formed. He pulled out the translated scroll from the backpack and handed it to me. I had to summon the Dracae myself.

I opened the aged scroll and read aloud the first sentence. The words seemed to echo around us. The wind picked up, bringing a definite chill, and the creature appeared in front of us. It was the first time I'd seen the Dracae up close. It stood nine feet tall and was all black, like a solid shadow. It looked at me with gold eyes that lacked pupils. I'd never seen anything like it in my life.

"Thank you for putting me back in my slumber," the Dracae said.

I gave the creature a nod. I mean, what was I supposed to say? I looked at the Keeper. "Start the ritual," I said.

The Keeper told us what to say and we started the chant. I closed my eyes and focused until the ground started to shake. I opened my eyes because I immediately thought of Alex. But, I had bound his power!

Then I realized that it was the spell, and we continued to chanting. The Dracae turned to black vapor and creature disappeared into the orb, causing it to seal itself. It kind of reminded me of a genie going into its bottle.

The Keeper picked up the orb. Blaze and I went to him. "Now we have to seal the orb with our blood," he said.

He handed the orb to Blaze, and then took the Bowie knife from his side. He poked his finger with the tip of the blade. Then he did the same to Blaze and me. We each put a couple of drops of blood on the orb. The stone seemed to drink it in and glow a brilliant turquoise blue. The air around us filled with the scent of lilacs.

"It's done. I will take the orb. I think it is best that you do not know where, but it will be protected," the Keeper said. He took the orb and scroll, and put them into his backpack.

"Thank you for all your help," I said.

"You owe me one. But if you need me again, don't hesitate to use the card I gave you," the Keeper said in a serious voice.

"Okay, I owe you one," I said with a grin. I wasn't really sure what he meant by the statement.

"Blaze, thank you for your help," the Keeper said, shaking Blaze's hand.

"Take care," Blaze said. With that, we parted ways, and Blaze helped me back to the house. Now it was full dark and it was getting cold. All I wanted to do was sit by a roaring fire, but tonight we planned to celebrate Yule and company was coming. I had to change.

I wore my favorite black leather pants, a red silk blouse, and flat boots. I fixed my make-up, aware that Paris would be here any minute.

A little while later, Paris and Caleb came in with a large, fresh pine tree. I wasn't able to do much to help set it up. Soon the others began to show up: Ronan, Connor, Ailin, even Rafe with bodyguards in tow. Blaze stayed too, and everyone pitched in to help decorate.

We decorated the tree with red, green, and white miniature lights. Poinsettias, stakes of holly, and silver pentagrams dotted the branches. We laughed and had a good time, letting the past few days melt away. For obvious reasons, Alex and Sam didn't come. It didn't hurt my feelings one bit not to see Alex, but sadness filled me at the thought of Sam, still unable to walk. I felt guilty and responsible for all that had happened in the last week between us. I'd have to try to fix things.

For once, I'd done all my shopping months ago. I guess Paris wouldn't make fun of me anymore for doing my Yule shopping early. Everyone exchanged their gifts. Ronan bought me a crystal cat to add to my collection. I probably have fifty but this statue looked like Nemo, my cat. The cat was my familiar and I honored bond by collecting crystal cats. Plus, they made me feel good. Caleb got me a beautiful sun-catcher. I got him a laptop of his own. I thought it was about time he had one, instead of always borrowing mine.

The best gift I received was when Paris caught me under the mistletoe. His lips were so soft and full. At first, it was a quick kiss, but I opened my mouth to him. I was such a willing partner. We searched each other's mouths with our tongues and teeth. When the kiss was over, I stared into his greenish-gray eyes. My body tightened. I wanted him. But, I didn't want to put him in the kind of danger the surge represented. Just the thought of it made me shudder.

As a young woman, I accidentally sent my magick into two boyfriends, killing them both. I could never take that chance again.

To my surprise, Connor brought a date to the party. I hadn't seen her before. I watched him with the black haired woman, focusing in on her. She was a hundred-year-old Vashon by my guess. She wore black leather pants and a white t-shirt. She never strayed far from Connor's side. They walked up to me with their arms around each other's waist.

"Logan, I would like to introduce you to a dear woman in my life. Naomi, this is Logan," Connor said in a cheery voice, instead of his usual somber one.

"Nice to meet you. How do you like Little Rock?" I asked her. Her unusual perfume filled my nose, sweet and peppery at the same time.

"So far it's nice, but I have only been here a couple of days," Naomi said with a British accent that was so close to Connor's Scottish, it was almost hard to tell which it was.

To look at her, she seemed to be about twenty-two years old. With a vashon, looks are deceiving. She had a decent amount of magick that danced along my skin, and her eyes were a brilliant shade of blue. Maybe it was her pale skin, or the combination, but she was beautiful.

During the party, I was able to talk to Ronan with some concerns I had about Connor. Just the thought made me glance at Connor and Naomi. They kissed each other like old lovers reunited; it made me wonder if they were.

When I gave a part of my magick to Connor to bring him back from the dead, he became more than a vashon, Ronan told me. Now he's a vasitch, a vashon/witch. Whatever made me a natural witch now flowed through Connor. Not many existed, so only time would tell how Connor had changed. Or, if the Elders would notice.

It took a month for my injuries to heal. I'm lucky I'm a natural witch, or I would be down many months maybe even dead. I'm back at work and I never thought that I would miss hunting ghosts. Paris is going to take me vehicle shopping, since my van wrecked by the tree I hit. I haven't decided what I'm going to get yet. I'm thinking of an SUV.

I went to visit Sam in the hospital. She won't talk to me or anyone else. She's very angry, and who could blame her? She has more physical therapy to go through, but she'll be home soon. The artifacts she found were locked up in the Realm's vault, except for that one scroll the Keeper took with him. As for Jack the Ripper's surgical kit, it was returned to Ronan and now it too is locked away. Ronan promised to lock up any more cursed items that were too dangerous to be sitting on a shelf. I told him I would be p.issed if any more items like that got into circulation.

Winter has finally eased, and it hasn't snowed for a week. It was a blessing to see the sun. I finally got my stitches out, but I have some new scars. It's not like I didn't have any before and I'm sure these won't be my last. So, things are back to normal. How normal can the life of a ghost-hunting witch be?