The sorceress smoothed the dull-hued wool of her gunna over her thighs, the shapeliness of which was clearly outlined beneath the thin cloth. She wore no distaff, a spinning tool that outwardly proclaimed a femaleís industriousness, but he never doubted her busyness.

In the wanton pursuit of their evil occupation, witches never rested. This one most likely performed her wickedness from dusk to dawn.

"Best be forewarned," she said. "Though I cannot enter your mind, I can decipher your expression. La! You royals are so easy to read. No amount of thyme or dill," she said pointedly, "or even angelica grown in the holiest of monasteries will protect you this eve. There is no antidote for me."

Above the circling smoke, their gazes connected. Lingered. Locked. Even in his noblemanís cloak, he felt naked, exposed, stripped of all s ubterfuge.

White knuckling his walking stick, Gralam resisted her control as if he were a fortress under siege. "You, sorceress, have bewitched me."

"Not yet." Her eyes twinkled with mischief. But I shall."