What the fang?

undead ever after #1

Sink your teeth into this irresistible forbidden romance from USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy about the vampire Warden of Charleston and the new-in-town witch who’s causing him all kinds of trouble…

Willa Farrington’s magic is broken. Shunned by her coven for failing to pass the Summer Solstice Rite, Willa escapes to the one place no witch belongs – Charleston, a city that belongs to vampires. Determined to embrace her new life, Willa opens Cauldron Boil Books, and unexpectedly finds some friends among the vampires…

Until one terrible night Willa ends up on the wrong side of a pair of fangs. Thankfully, her captor’s plan is ruined when Killian Constantine, the drop-dead gorgeous Warden of Charleston, shows up to save her. But just when Willa thinks she’s safe, Killian, rumored to be the most feared vampire in the city, furiously demands to know why she – a witch – telepathically called him for help.

Intent on finding answers, the two embark on a journey to unravel the mystery behind Willa’s attack and their unusual connection. As they get closer to the truth, the fiery passion between them ignites. But their forbidden romance isn’t making them many friends, and just as Willa starts to think that her entire existence is a lie, deadlier forces come out of the shadows. She will need to believe in her malfunctioning magic, trust bloodthirsty vampires, and cross her fingers that she and Killian make it out together… and that neither end up dead.   

Start Reading Today!

“A sexy, fun and oh so rollercoaster of a new series that will blow you away.”
Goodreads Reviewer, Melinda


Most witches feared vampires. I saw them as a business opportunity. 

The bell above the old wooden door chimed as a tall, dark, and handsome vampire entered my pride and joy, Cauldron Boil Books. The bookshop, with the weathered crimson-colored door and wrought-iron sign, was on a block of prime real estate in Charleston, South Carolina. The old red-bricked building sat along a cobblestone road in the French Quarter. The only reason I could afford the place was because of the whispered rumors of the shop being haunted. Considering I’d never seen an angry ghost in the shop or in my apartment above, the ghost either liked me or had liked what I’d done to the place. But whatever the reason, I was glad. The last thing I needed in my life was a ghost. 

The vampire greeted me with a brief nod as I placed the latest bestseller in the storefront window display. Outside, the night was hazy, the lights from the antique lampposts burning softly through the stifling humid air. I had no doubt many witches thought sleeping during the day and working at night seemed strange, but since Charleston didn’t have a bookshop, I adjusted my schedule when I landed in the charming historic city, figuring everyone liked to read, even bloodsuckers.  

Turned out I’d been right. Vampires loved books as much as they loved a smooth, willing neck. And the willing part hadn’t always been the case. 

The war between humans and vampires ended when humans realized they were greatly outmatched. Once a peace treaty was signed to end the two-month brutal war, the United States government handed over control of three cities to vampires: Charleston, New Orleans, and Savannah, the only three cities the vampires had requested since they felt most comfortable in historic cities. Likely, because many of them were as old as dirt. I hadn’t met a vampire yet who liked modern living and skyscrapers. So, with the money my mother, Zara Farrington, left in her estate for me, I found the most Victorian building in Charleston and turned the little space into something that was all my own. Every detail—from the antique bookshelves in rows and around the perimeter of the square shop, to the thick vintage oak furniture in the small sitting area, to the Frankincense incense—were all to vampires’ tastes, and my bank account had never looked better. My fridge no longer contained only hot dogs and leftover macaroni and cheese, but also had healthy food grown in my garden on the roof, and I hadn’t eaten a hot dog in a year. 

Leaving the vampire to browse the new releases on the table by the door, I approached the counter and turned on the radio.

“It’s time for a new beginning. For vampires to no longer hide in small cities but to flourish in business, in government, in freedom. It’s time for vampires to stand above, not below, humans.” 

The sound of Ezra von Stein’s grating voice was equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. Vampires were as bad with politics as humans. Maybe even worse since vamps lived by a different code. There were no jails, no juries, no kindnesses. You mess up. You die. That was the code of Ari von Stein, the current Vampire King of the United States, and Ezra’s brother. 

After the war ended, Ari created peace between vampires and humans by accepting the three cities gracefully, by declaring peace so no other lives were lost, and by enforcing a treaty that only willing humans were on the menu. Thus came the Vampire Human Rights Act, protecting humans’ rights. For any blood given, they were paid a hefty sum by the vampires who employed them. Most vampires had grown used to drinking blood from a glass instead of sinking their fangs into a neck. Except Ari’s brother, Ezra, had been gunning for Ari’s position so he could destroy the laws Ari spent a decade building. 

“What a load of horseshit,” my best friend, Gwen, said, approaching from the back room with a box of new releases in her arms. 

When I opened the shop three years ago, Gwen had applied for the job I’d posted online, and I’d hired her on the spot. While witches weren’t supposed to befriend vampires, and typically stuck to their own coven, I’d never done things most witches did, and Gwen was the gravy to my biscuits. Her fangs glistened dangerously, but her heart was pure gold. She’d been turned into a vampire against her will when she was twenty-seven. Things like that didn’t happen anymore, thankfully, not with the laws Ari had in place. 

“Hush, you,” I rebuked Gwen quietly. “No politics in the shop. It’s bad for business.” Everyone was on one side or the other, and no one seemed to see common sense anymore. The divide between vampires was a true, real, terrible thing. 

The vampire kept his focus on the books ahead of him, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I changed the station and Taylor Swift belted out of the speakers. The last thing I needed was to start my night off with the endless politics that plague the United States. Turning to Gwen, I asked, “Better?” 

“Much.” Beginning to sing along, she took out some of the new hardcovers and headed off to sort them on the shelves. 

I turned my attention back to the vampire standing at one of the bookcases. “Can I help you find anything in particular?” I asked him.

“I’m finding what I need, thank you.” The vampire ran his fingers over the spines of the books. “You have a wonderful collection of suspense novels.”

“Thank you. I try to keep up on the newest releases. Do you have a favorite author?”

He glanced over his shoulder and gave me a knowing grin. “Too many favorites to only name one.”

I restrained my snort. When you’re hundreds of years old, you’ve likely read a gazillion books. Vampires were immortal. Witches were not, but they did have much longer lifespans than humans. Most witches lived five hundred years or more. Powerful witches lived over a thousand years. The aging process slowed to a crawl once a witch turned twenty-one, after she passed the Summer Solstice Rite, a rite of passage for every witch. It took a few hundred years for a witch to look over fifty in human years. “Please let me know if you need any assistance.” 

He bowed. “I will, thank you, miss.”

Determined to get ahead of my to-do list, I pulled some new stock out of the box on the floor and set to putting them out on the display. The new James Patterson would likely sell out quickly. Vampires loved a good mystery. I’d even sold two copies of Twilight. One to a vampire turned as a teenager, who had stars in her eyes over Edward. The other to an older gentleman who called it comedy. Nonetheless, my paranormal section wasn’t nearly as stocked as the rest of the genres. 

Once I returned behind the counter, the vampire headed my way. He’d chosen a few books, setting them down. The first book was Nora Roberts’ latest. A vampire with a heart, always a sentiment that amazed me. “I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet,” I told him, scanning the barcode, catching a whiff of the strong aroma of his sandalwood cologne. “When you come again, please tell me what you thought of it.”

He smiled, his fangs up close and personal now, his dark eyes guarded like he’d seen and done things that would break me. “I’ll be glad to.” He offered a thin plastic card. “I’m paying by credit.”

I was leaning forward to reach for his credit card when he inhaled sharply. On his second, deeper inhale, he cut his gaze to my face. The vampire’s eyes widened and darkened, death shining in their depths. I jerked my hand back, reeling under the hatred burning on his face, coldness sinking into my bones. 

He didn’t move, those animalistic eyes locked on my every move, every breath, and heat flushed my body red hot in warning. 

Before I could get a word out, in a blink of an eye, he was out of the shop, the breeze of his departure causing my hair to flutter. The shop’s door slammed shut, knocking over books in the window display. My hands shook as I clicked the cash register to cancel the order. 

Gwen peeked around the bookcase. “What was that all about?” 

“I have absolutely no idea.” I breathed deeply, attempting to settle the racing of my heart. 

Gwen smirked. “Well, it wouldn’t be Charleston if something weird didn’t happen every night.” 

“True,” I agreed, but I couldn’t push away the unease creeping over me. Never, in all my twenty-four years, had anyone ever looked at me like they hated my guts. Sure, when I first moved to Charleston, not all the vampires living in the town were warm and welcoming to a witch living among them, but they looked at me with disdain, not hatred. Never hatred. 

Determined not to let the vampire ruin my night, I focused on getting set up for our special guest, Sophie Sands, a vampire author who’d recently made the New York Times Best Sellers list with her thriller. 

I did a good job not thinking of the odd moment with the vampire, in the hours that passed. But the creepiness crawled back up my spine when Sophie began signing books for her fans. I scanned the crowd, seeing if that vampire from earlier had come back, but I saw only happy, adoring readers clamoring to meet Sophie, a gorgeous blonde vampire who belonged on a red carpet. 

I handed Sophie another stack of books to sign when Gwen sidled up to me. She leaned against the bookcase, folding her arms across her T-shirt that read I might be a vampire but that doesn’t mean I have to be a dick about it. “Finnick and I are hitting up the Blood Moon Festival tomorrow.” The only night we were closed. “Want to come with?” 

Finnick was the third in our friendship trio, and the only other vampire who truly welcomed me into Charleston. “Yes, of course! Unless—” The festival wasn’t meant for witches. We didn’t celebrate the blood moon, only the full moon. And the relationship between vampire and witch was a sticky one. Witches came from white magic, given from the Goddess. Vampires derived from dark magic. Prejudice over whose magic was stronger, purer, never went away, not even when there was peace with humans. 

“Unless nothing,” Gwen said, baring her fangs. “Don’t let some stuffy vampires with dinosaur-aged views get in your head. You’re as welcome there as anyone else.” 

My heart grew two sizes. “Okay, you’re right. Carnival rides and candy apples sound like a perfect night off.” 

“Great,” Gwen replied, pleased. “I’ll let Finnick know. Do you need any more help here?” 

I scanned the dozen customers left in the shop and glanced at the clock on the wall. Sunrise was an hour away. “Nah, go home. This should wrap up soon and I’ll close shop.” 

“All right, bye, Boo.” Gwen dropped a quick kiss on my cheek before heading for the door. 

I smiled after her. The myth about sunlight and a stake through the heart killing vampires wasn’t true. The only way a vampire died was from being burned by fire. Bullets, knives and any other weapon could injure a vampire, but with human blood, they’d recover in seconds. Except if the blade or bullet was silver, then healing took hours. Even a vampire on the brink of death would eventually heal if they had blood. But from what Gwen told me, the sun was just too bright, too hot, too uncomfortable. 

“Another stack, please,” Sophie said. 

I blinked. Sophie held out her hand, frowning. “Sorry.” I reached for another stack of hardcovers and handed them to her. At the annoyance in her sharp blue eyes, I stayed attentive on the job at hand, keeping my thoughts only on Sophie’s needs until I thanked her for coming to the signing and shut the door behind her after the shop cleared out. 

Everything hurt. My arms from holding and passing books. My legs from standing so long. Most of all, my feet. 

I locked the front door and flipped the sign to closed, and then dragged my aching feet toward the counter, where I closed the cash register, taking the money back to the safe in the office. 

By the time I turned off all the lights and made my way toward the back stairs leading to my apartment, I was yawning. I stuck the key in the lock and the hair on my arms rose. Spinning around, I stared into the darkness at the front of the bookshop but heard nothing, saw nothing. Feeling like I was beginning to lose it, I turned to the lock again when I heard a laugh and smelled sandalwood. A hard wall of muscle hit my back before a hand covered my mouth, and an odd metallic smell filled my nose. 

“Fighting is pointless,” a low voice said. 

My blood ran cold as I recognized that voice. The creep from earlier spun me around, forcing me to stare into dark eyes that stood out against his pale skin. “You’re not going to scream. You’re coming with me.”

“Like hell I am,” I growled, kneeing him in the groin. Vampire or not, he went down with a grunt. I ran for the front door, except another set of hands grabbed me, and another, and I discovered the bookshop’s carpet tasted like gritty sand. Most witches would have called on their magic to defend them, but I, being magic-less, struggled and roared, until all I knew were hands on my body and pain. So much pain. 


Help me. 

Until, like a switch being turned off, the world went black. 

When that switch turned back on, I had no recollection of how much time had passed but only knew that I was no longer outside my apartment or anywhere near my bookshop. I jolted up with a gasp, finding myself on a black leather couch in a Victorian sitting room with furniture I bet was older than the city of Charleston. 

Someone cleared their throat. 

I jerked my head toward the sound, finding the most gorgeous vampire I’d ever seen, sitting in a leather wingback chair. Obviously, when he’d been turned, he’d done manual labor. He clearly had a strong physique and black dress shirt, rolled up at the sleeves to reveal mouthwateringly muscular forearms, and I just bet he had an eight-pack beneath that fancy shirt. Even his black dress pants were tight against his thick thighs. His shiny jet-black hair was styled, and he didn’t look older than thirty-five, but his shadowed gray eyes declared his age was far older. 

“What is your name?” he asked. His voice was smooth and low, and damn near melted my bones. 

“Shouldn’t you know my name? You abducted me,” I shot back. 

His nostrils flared. “I won’t ask again. What is your name?” 

“Willa Farrington,” I said, studying my abductor. The waves of power coming off him were near stifling. “And you are?” 

A smirk. “Killian Constantine.” 

Oh fang. Killian wasn’t an ordinary vampire, he was the Warden of Charleston, making him basically royalty in these parts. Each city had their own Vampire Sovereignty; Killian led Charleston’s. He was the police, the judge, the jury, and he answered to only one person: Ari. 

The sane part of my mind told me to stay quiet. The impulsive part controlled my lips. “You are the Warden of Charleston. How dare you attack me.”

He cocked his head, his regard deepening. “I didn’t attack you. The vampires who attacked you are dead.” 

I blinked. 


And again. 

“Wait,” I said, desperate to catch up. “Are you telling me you rescued me?” 

A nod. 

I took a minute to really see my surroundings, suddenly coming to realize I was sitting in Killian Constantine’s living room at the Manor, a sprawling plantation, where Killian and his guard lived and conducted business. I sank into the couch. Gwen had told me on more than one occasion, “Piss off any vampire you want. I’ll deal with them. Just not Killian Constantine. You don’t want to get on his radar.” 

I scoped out the exits when Killian asked, “What source is your magic?”

“I don’t have any magic.” I admitted my greatest flaw. “I failed the Summer Solstice Rite.” The rite showed a witch where her fate lay—some witches made potions, some held strong defensive magic and trained as protectors for the coven, and others simply worked for the coven, keeping the band of witches tight. The Goddess gave magic to witches, and witches gave back blessings to the Goddess through rituals. I sucked at all of it, and after I failed the rite, I was blacklisted and kicked out of my coven. Even though my Aunt Flora, the witch who raised me, was one of the strongest witches in the coven, she could do nothing to save me. 

Killian’s expression remained a mask of arrogant male annoyance. “Who is your coven?” 

“I belonged to the Southeastern Coven.” Witch covens were split into regions of the United States. The Southeastern headquarters was in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. And while witches never went to war with humans, when the vampires fought their war, witches came to the aid of humans to protect their cities with magic, finally outing themselves to a world that once burned witches at the stake. It had left bad blood between witches and vampires, but a peaceful relationship between humans and witches had been forged during that battle and remained strong.  They’d received a televised apology for the murders of the Salem witches and compensation to the covens. 

Killian arched an eyebrow. “You don’t belong to your coven any longer?” 

“Like I said, I failed the Summer Solstice Rite, so they banished me.” I had no doubt that the second I moved into Charleston, I was on his radar, being the only witch in his city. “Shouldn’t you know all this about me already?” 

He held my stare for a long moment, his magic brushing across my skin like warm fingers I didn’t hate caressing me. 

All vampires had some ability gifted to them through dark magic. Gwen could shape-shift into a crow. Finnick could teleport himself by locking on to someone’s location. But the older the vampire, the stronger the magic. 

Killian’s power made the air crackle. 

“What I know is that you were a quiet witch who brought business to town,” he eventually said. “I didn’t object to your stay because of this.” The air thickened as his power swept over me, no doubt searching for deceit or hidden magic. When the power dissipated, he leaned his elbows on his knees and leveled me with a hard look. “But you are not a quiet witch any longer.” 

“I am a quiet witch,” I retorted, keeping the snippiness I felt out of my voice. “I did not abduct myself. Shouldn’t you be out there finding out why those vampires attacked me?” 

“I’m not certain I believe your story.” 

My anger flared. “What reason do I possibly have to lie? I’ve lived in Charleston without incident for three years.” 

A pause. A long, long pause. “You called to me telepathically for help.” 

Silence descended. Heavy silence filled with questions. I waited for him to laugh or do something to indicate he was joking. The silence continued. 

“You’ve got to be wrong,” I implored. “I have no magic. I couldn’t have done that.” 

“You did.” 

I had no gifts, no power, no anything. “Impossible.” 

“Not impossible,” he said dryly. “Since it happened.” 

I held his gaze, not finding any deception, only disbelief in what I was telling him. I felt the blood draining from my face. “What the fang is going on?”

The Undead Ever after series...

What the Fang?
Oh Fang!