Patenting Magic Excerpt – Don’t Play Chess with the Titan of Knowledge

Here’s an excerpt from my book Patenting Magic, the 4th book in the Law and Magic series.  Millie is sent to the Titan of Knowledge to get his help figuring out who’s been doing magic experiments on the people of Nashville and gets more than she bargained for.  Let me know if the chess scene works and if you can feel the heat 😉

“Who are you?” I asked.

“You’ve studied us, no?” He walked around me again, circling close enough for me to touch him. I held still, grinding my teeth when he stopped behind me. “Can you not guess who I am?” he whispered over my ear, so close I could feel the heat from his body against my back.

I closed my eyes, searching my brain before biting the end of my tongue. “Why do I feel this urge to answer you?”

“That’s my power. You asked why I work? One, I’m good at it, and I enjoy shaping,” the word flowed over my side, making my hip tingle like a finger brushed over it, “young minds. Two, my power is knowledge. I do not have any more juice than a powerful human, but in the realms of the mind, I’m unsurpassed. I work so I can stay in the human world, learn more every day.”

I felt more than heard him walk around in front of me again and I backed up, tapping against the wall. I opened my eyes just in time to see him plant his hands on either side of my head, trapping me against the wall.

“Tell me who I am, little siren.”

“You…” My throat went dry and I swallowed and cleared it. “You said you’re not a god, not technically, but you are one of them basically. You’re a Titan.” My voice shook. “And you have to be the Titan of Knowledge.”

“Very good.” He leaned in. “So what’s my name?”

“I don’t remember. I’m bad with names.” I whispered too, couldn’t help it.

“Think. It’s there, I can feel your mind working, feel the synapses firing. You have it, you merely need to unlock it.”  He closed the distance between our faces and my eyes slid closed, lips parting.

“Not yet,” he said.

My eyes popped open and I grinned. “Koios,” I said in what was definitely not that indoor voice people were always talking about. “You’re one of the Titans that was reborn in this world and didn’t remember your past life until magic woke up. I listened to you on the Ted Talks podcast on Living Legends.”

“See?” He backed up and my smile fell. “You never know what you know until you are pushed.”

“The only thing you were pushing was my buttons,” I said, crossing my arms. “So what’s your name in this life? I don’t think they ever said.”

He pulled a card out of his pocket and handed it to me. It was simple and white, bearing the crest of Harvard and his contact info.

“Doctor Victor Manis,” I read out loud. “Professor of Political Science and Economics.” I giggled again.

“What?”

“This is so weird. You’re this big powerful god and now you’re just a person. Born and raised in America, not a new being that just woke up three years ago.  I know you, or at least of you. I follow your blog. I read your paper in undergrad.”

“Oh really?” His eyebrows flew up. “Which paper?”

“How many do you have?”

He shrugged. “I don’t keep count. Maybe a dozen published in major journals.”

“The one on Machiavelli in the age of globalization. It was required reading in my International Politics class.”

“It should be required reading in every political science program.”

“Wow, there’s nothing wrong with your ego.”

“You could learn a thing or two about that.” Victor walked into the cabin’s kitchen area and pulled a bottle out from under the counter.

“What? Checking my ego?”

“No, understanding your own accomplishments.” He pulled two glasses out of the cupboard and opened the bottle. “When you downplay your brilliance like you do, you’re not being humble, you’re indulging self pity.” He poured the glasses and walked around, holding one out to me. “Drink?”

I took it. It was a dark gold with deep red undertones. “Scotch?”

He nodded. “And older than you. Cheers.” He clinked his glass against mine.

I took a long sniff of it, letting the hints of wood wash down my throat before sipping.

It tasted of orange and clove and left wood smoke on my tongue.

“Oooookay,” I practically moaned. “That’s good.”

“Good scotch is like good sex. You have to approach it slowly, feel it out before you dive in for a drink.” He kept his eyes on mine over the glass as he took another sip and my stomach flipped like a trained dolphin.

“When did this turn into a seduction?”

“It’s been a seduction since I brought you here. I could have answered your questions in the woods.”

“You haven’t answered my questions.”

“Yet.”

He nodded towards the fireplace. A chessboard sat on a table between two chairs. None of which was there before. “Want to play? For every piece of mine captured, you get an answer to a question.”

“If I get a question for a piece, what do you get for a piece?”

“You take off a piece of clothing. Basic strip chess rules apply.”

“Haha, nice try.” I took another sip. Damn, that was smooth.

“Fair’s fair, I’ll be stripping too. I’ll just answer your questions as a bonus.”

His arms looked strong under the cloth and I imagined them gleaming in the firelight. “I read your blog, I know you’re a chess instructor. You’ll wipe the floor with me.”

“Yes, but I’ll be dragging it out to get you naked before checkmate, giving you the opportunity to get your questions answered.”

“You don’t even know me; why are you trying to get me into bed?”

“You are not that naive. Not anymore. A man will look at a woman and decide within five seconds if he wants to have sex with her based strictly on looks. With your hot, little body, I decided in one.”  He sat on the side with the black pieces and nodded at the other chair over the chessboard.

“You’ve got a game,” I said, sitting down and pointing at him. “I’m not agreeing to having sex with you.”

“I know.”  He smiled though.  “We have to have the same amount of clothing.”  He looked me over and I assumed he was counting.  He shrugged off his jacket and handed it to me before loosening his tie and taking it off.  “We’ll count your necklace and with my jacket, that’ll be ten pieces each.”

Was I really going to strip with a guy I barely met? I put on his jacket and took a deep breath. Oh man. I took another deep drak of his dark, spicy cologne and my stomach fluttered. He smelled better than the scotch.

Yep.

Victor lifted his hand and the scotch bottle floated from the counter to it. He topped us off and nodded at the board. “White goes first.”

I got a pawn after the first few moves, setting up my usual pawn perimeter of the little guys forming a two up, one up pattern.

“Okay,” I said. “Who was sucking magic out of me?”

“None of us know that. Something powerful though, because it’s been doing that to many magical beings in Nashville and we can’t seem to trace it. We’re trying. Does that count as an answer?”

I shrugged. “I guess that’s a good enough answer for a pawn. Take off a piece.”

He bent and pulled off his shoe, holding it up before dropping it on the floor. “My turn.”

#

He took his dear sweet time plucking off my pieces one by one. Half my pawns, a rook and a bishop were gone by the time I got anything beyond a few pawns and ran through my questions on who was testing magic and why. He didn’t know but he was looking into it, it was getting old.

Victor leaned forward, moving his horse to get my queen.

“Shit! I didn’t see that!”

“I noticed.” He smiled. “Shirt. Off.”

I stuck my tongue out at him and pulled my tank top off over my head. He stared, no shame, no blushing, no claiming he was looking at something else.

“Stop staring.” I wrapped an arm around my waist and the other around my boobs. “They’re tiny. Nothing really to look at anyway.”

“All I need is a mouthful. And I’m staring because you are gorgeous.”

I blushed down to my toes and looked down. “Stop distracting me. I need to get my head back in the game.” I stared at the board for at least five minutes, pretending I couldn’t feel his eyes on me. What the hell were we doing? Was this actually going to happen? Did I want it to?

I looked up and met his eyes. The flat desire in them made everything from my heart to my groin jerk and my breath catch. Oh yeah. We could do this.

I took his bishop, leaving my knight open to attack from his queen. Hopefully he wouldn’t see the trap.

He gave me a look. “Nice try.”

I shrugged. “Trying what? And you owe me a shirt.”

He unbuttoned his shirt, slowly, like a striptease. I rolled my eyes but grinned and watched anyway as he pulled it off his shoulders showing a white undershirt and yep, confirming big, buff arms.

Victor smiled, probably like a wolf smiles at a deer, but I couldn’t help but grin.

“Yes,” I said, “you’re very pretty too.”

“I’m psychic, remember? I know exactly what you were thinking when you looked at my arms.”

“Sorry.” I blushed and looked down again. “Don’t know-“

“Don’t apologize. I like being bit.”

My stomach fluttered as I met his eyes again. “Really?  I don’t like causing pain, just biting… and I don’t like pain.  On me, I mean.”

“Well,” Victor said, sweeping his eyes down my body. “You do like some types.”

“Um, well… I… get out of my head!”

He chuckled. “You earned yourself a question.”

I rubbed my head. “I can’t think right now. You embarrassed my brain into hiding.”

“Well then. We’ll just remember I owe you one and you can ask after.”

Heat flushed through me, making my face tingle like an allergic reaction and I pressed my hands to them. “After?”

He took another pawn and looked me in the eye. “After. I’m a man of my word, you’ll get your answers. You might be more clear headed then.”

“I’m…” I licked my lips. “I’m not exactly clear headed now, huh? Okay, I’m just going to focus on the game now.” I moved my rook across the board, keeping my fingers on it until I could make sure no one could kill it. “Check.”

“Interesting.” He grinned at me. “You left your king open to attack though.”

“What! Where?”

He grinned. “I’ll tell you after.”

“You keep saying that. I have not agreed to anything, Doctor Manis.”

“Oh, doctor. I like the sound of that out of your mouth.”

“You seem to like a lot of things about my mouth. You don’t even know what it actually does.” I pointed at him. “And don’t say you’re psychic so you know.”

“I can see. But you’re right. I can’t feel through other people. I’ll find out soon enough.”

I looked down.  His bishop stood in the way of my rook, but I could easily attack from other side with my bishop and knight. What was I missing? I moved my bishop. “Check.”

He moved his knight on my side of the board, taking out my knight. “You left him unprotected when you moved that rook.”

“Shit!” I said. “I forgot about him.”

“I noticed.” He licked his lips. “Pants off.”

“Grrrrrr.” I stood and unbuttoned my jeans.

“Slower.”

“Not going to give you the satisfaction,” I said. But I pulled them down instead of yanking, taking maybe two seconds longer than I would’ve.

I crossed my arms over my chest and sat back down. I wasn’t showing more than I would in a bathing suit, but damn, with his eyes on me, it felt like more.

“Come on,” I said. “It’s not like I’m in anything particularly sexy. They don’t even match.”

“You’re a mostly naked girl. You think guys care if underwear matches? That’s for girls to feel pretty, not for guys to look at. Trust me.”

“I don’t. I don’t even know you.”

“But you’re sitting there in your underwear, and you’re not running from me.”

“Not really in a running mood.”

He grinned and I moved a pawn. He moved and I did. Dancing around each other. No other pieces going, not yet.

Victor paused on his next turn, propping his chin on his hand as he eyed the board. He flicked his eyes up at me.

“What?” I asked.

“Just wondering if I should end this quickly, I mean you’re basically naked, or keep playing with you.”

His tone made me shiver and he moved his queen up the board. Not cornering anyone, but too close to my king for comfort.

“What did you decide?” I asked, voice high and breathy.

“You’ll see.”

I moved my knight to where it could get the queen, and of course he moved the queen out of harm’s way. I followed her with the knight. At least I could keep her moving, and hopefully from doing too much damage.

“You know why I love chess?” he asked.

“Why?”

“There’s no luck. Most games have an element of luck.  Chess? There’s not even the chance of lady luck screwing you.”

“I like Chess for that reason too. Just wish I was better at it.”

“You’re not bad. But you’re right, you’re not good.” He moved his bishop and took out my knight from across the board.

I bit my lip.

“You just need to practice,” Victor said, nodding at me. “Bra.”

I reached behind me and unclipped it, letting it slide down my arms before crossing them over my chest. I raised an eyebrow. “You sure you’re going to be able to concentrate once these are out? I mean, you may be a Titan, but you’re still male.”

He leaned over the board. “I think I can handle it.”

I stared him straight in the eyes as I let the bra fall to the ground, not bothering to cover myself up anymore.

He leaned back. “Your move.”

The board wasn’t looking too good. I had practically nothing left to use. I moved my rook back to my side of the board to help defend the king.

Victor chased down my king with his pieces and had him pinned in three moves. He met my eyes.

“Checkmate.”

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