A Mind Full of Voices by Mell R. Bright

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Bright Lake Chronicles Book 2

Luke Read is lonely. Which is a beautiful irony in itself, considering he’s never really alone. The ghosts make sure of that. He attracts them like a sun-warmed fruit attracts wasps on a summer day. And they’re just as feisty and clingy. He was never a very good warlock, but his magic is so potent and ever-spilling that they can smell it from miles away. They want to feed on his power. But they also want his attention. They want to be seen. And he’s the only one who can. It’s his gift and his curse. Thankfully, he made friends over the years. And they’re wonderful. But he can’t seem to find that special someone who would make it all worth it. So Luke is lonely.

Until one day, one of the MacRath brothers, Callum, appears in his life, and his expectations are uprooted and planted in new soil. They grow like weeds, and he wonders if his side of the fence could really be greener.

Callum MacRath hears voices in his head. It started four years ago, on a normal day. At first, it was just a few whispers in the wind. Then it turned into screams. He has seizures sometimes when it gets too much. His brothers don’t know what to do to help. Nobody knows what ails him. Shifters aren’t supposed to get sick; the magic in their blood makes sure of it. With each passing day, he’s getting weaker. Soon, the seizures will finally take him. He’s made his peace. Life is not a story; it doesn’t always have a happy ending. But then one day, he meets the little warlock again. The one who always shines so bright. Luke Read. But as he gets closer to him, the voices turn wild.

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Excerpt from A Mind Full of Voices © Copyright 2023 Mell R. Bright

I’ve lived an easy life for a man. I never really had to conquer anyone. All the girlfriends and boyfriends I had over the years—that is, before the voices and the seizures—had all come to me. I’m usually the one being seduced, and I take things as they come.

But with Luke Read, I doubt it’ll be that easy. Oh, he’s attracted to me. I can smell it on him. I can guess it from his secret looks and blushes. But he’s also scared of his own desires and feelings. That much is evident. He has been dealing primarily with ghosts for too long.

I watch him as he finishes his third glass of wine. The bottle is almost empty, and the second one awaits at the end of the table. I’m still on my first glass. Now that the voices are gone, and I don’t need to drown them out, drinking alcohol fast has lost its appeal.

We finish our dinner in silence, sharing heated glances over our food.

The more Luke drinks, the more he holds my gaze. It makes him bolder.

We clean the table and come back to sit. This time, I choose a chair right in front of him, closer than before. I stretch my legs so that they touch his own. If he’s smart, he’ll notice by now that I look for any reason to touch him.

Luke looks up.

“What is it?” I ask him.

“No—nothing.”

“What was your major?”

Luke frowns. “Sorry?”

“At university. What did you study?”

“Oh. Literature. What a surprise, right?” He laughs. “But I didn’t go to college. I studied from home. You know… because, ghosts,” he says sadly.

And I’m guessing one ghost in particular kept him from wandering far from the protection of his home. I can’t wait to put an end to her.

“But you talked about having sex with a classmate,” I urge him on.

He snorts. “I did. We met during an online class. We spoke for a while, and things got frisky. Then one day he came to Bright Lake, and we booked a hotel room. I guess we were both horny and lonely.”

I feel a twinge of something, perhaps jealousy. Even though it was a long time ago.

“I see,” I say calmly.

“That’s it, until the old lady appeared in the room,” Luke grimaces. “The ghost of a woman who had died a few rooms away a while back. She wouldn’t stop talking to me, and I had to drop everything. The guy never talked to me again.”

I smile and say, “Thankfully, I can see ghosts too.”

Luke’s glass stops halfway to his lips, and his eyes widen. I think he’s catching up on my not-so-subtle hints.

“Do you often bring lovers to your place?” I ask him.

Luke shakes his head. “Sometimes, after a night out. But not often enough.”

I hum. I’d like for often to never happen and sometimes to stop.

I sit up and bend toward him. I slowly reach for his face with my hand. He doesn’t move away. When I rub the space under his jaw and ear, at the top of his neck, to scent-mark him, he closes his eyes and leans into the touch.

As I circle my thumb over his cheek, he turns his head slowly, and my finger ends up over his lips. I caress them slowly. Then he parts his lips and gently licks my thumb before sucking it in his mouth. Violent desire surges through my body. My skin tingles, and my erection hurts.

“Fuck, Luke,” I breathe out. “You look delicious.”

He looks at me with lustful eyes, and it takes all my willpower not to jump on him.

“I do?” he asks.

“Hell yes.” I sigh. “But you’re also as drunk as a skunk.”

He laughs, swaying.

I pull my hand away slowly. He tries to follow and almost falls off his chair.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles.

“Oh no, sweetheart, don’t be sorry,” I say, standing up. “I should probably go before you tempt me too much.”

Luke looks heartbroken. “But what if I want to tempt you?”

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