A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One (4 page)

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
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The world seemed to slow down as Joanna perched on my chest, her grey eyes staring down into mine. I could hear Graham swearing somewhere above me and the sound of gunfire filled the air.

My gun was gone, knocked from my grip when she barreled into me, but my fingers had already closed around the athame my father had given me.

“Why?” Joanna asked, her gurgling voice surprising me.

“Why what?” I asked, her weight pressing me down into the blood soaked carpet.

“Why fight what we are….” She didn’t finish the sentence, but turned with a snarl towards Graham.

She started to move towards him, but I brought my arm up, driving the blade into the gaping hole the vampire had left in her chest and abdomen.

The knife sank through her flesh and came to a jarring halt against her broken ribs.

The creature that had formerly been Joanna screamed and scrabbled at the blade lodged in her chest. I knew what it was doing to her, burning through the flesh, singeing the bone. I drove my arm up further, pushing past her broken ribs and straight into her heart.

She returned her attention to me, and for a split second, the grey of death was lifted from her eyes and they were a perfect clear blue.

“Thank you…” she whispered before she slumped over me, whatever had been controlling her body disappearing in the blink of an eye and leaving me buried beneath the dead weight, gasping for air.

Chapter 7


W
hat the hell was that
?” Graham said, dragging Joanna’s body from on top of me.

I fought my way free and climbed to my feet; the blood coating the carpet had soaked in through the back of my jacket and was causing my hair to stick to the back of my neck.

I needed a shower, but there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of that happening after what had just gone down.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” I said, dragging the athame from the now-unmoving corpse.

“Well, what happened up here? One minute I’m down stairs dealing with Detective Brody getting carted off to the hospital, and the next, I’m racing up the stairs because of all the screaming….”

Graham turned his attention to the crime scene technician. I didn’t dare even breathe as he crouched down over the unmoving man and pressed his fingers against the side of his neck.

“Still got a pulse here, but it’s weak,” he said, climbing back onto his feet and assessing the scene.

“Are you all right, hurt anywhere?”

I shook my head, but it was a lie. I was scratched up pretty badly and every time I sucked in a deep breath, my ribs ached like a body had just been dumped on me.

In a way, that was exactly what had happened….

“Go and call for the paramedics. I’ll stay with this guy and see if I can’t patch him up a little.”

I didn’t answer Graham; I didn’t want to continue hanging around in the room. I needed out of there and I needed air fast.

Reaching the doorway, I gripped the frame as the room spun in sickening circles.

Do not pass out. Don’t you dare pass out.
I repeated the words over and over in my head until the dizzy spell passed and I was fit to start moving again.

Graham’s eyes bored holes in my back as I stepped out of the room. I could feel his attention on me and I knew what he was thinking. The only problem was that whatever he was thinking was wrong.

The thing that had taken over Joanna wasn’t me. I didn’t have that kind of power, and I’d felt the power that had coursed through her corpse, animating her and giving her the superhuman strength she’d displayed.

Whatever had brought her back was incredibly powerful. And it was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard of before.

How was I supposed to work for the Elite if I didn’t even know what could do something like that?

Making my way down the stairs on legs that felt like jelly, I dragged my cell phone from the inside pocket of my jacket.

The screen was cracked, but I couldn’t be sure if it had happened when Joanna had jumped me, when I’d collided with the floor, or when she’d sat on my chest.

“Crap,” I said, reaching the bottom of the stairs.

The hall was filled with police officers, their eyes watching me expectantly.

They’d all heard the commotion; I could tell from the fear that lurked in their eyes that they knew about what had gone on upstairs, or at least as much as they could know from the downstairs hall.

“Someone call an ambulance, my phone is busted and one of your tech guys needs medical assistance.…”

I didn’t hang around to see if they obeyed my orders. They might have been cowards when it came to the monsters, but they sure as hell wouldn’t ignore a plea for an ambulance.

I pushed out past the crowd of gathered officers and broke out into the afternoon sunshine.

At least it wasn’t night time.…

The children.

In the vision, I’d watched them run when their mother had told them to, the little boy’s hand wrapped around his sister’s as they’d ran from the room.

If they’d escaped, where had they gone to?

They weren’t in the house—If they had been, then they’d have been found by now. The place was crawling with cops.

I crossed the front lawn, following it around the side of the house that led to the back garden. Something kept me stumbling forward until I reached the end of the green lawn, the shrubs and trees half obscuring the fence from my view.

Following the line of the fence, I paused at a particularly dense area of shrubbery and pushed through the foliage.

My legs hit the edge of the wall before I even realised what it was, and as I pushed aside the last of the tree branches my heart sank in my chest.

There was a reason I was drawn here and it wasn’t going to be good.…

The well was hidden from view, and the wooden cover sat propped against the rounded stone wall that rose up around it, the mouth of the well open to the sky. A family with young children wouldn’t go to the effort of covering the well and then not keeping the lid on it.

Gripping the edge of the well’s wall, I peered down into the darkness, but my eyes couldn’t pick out anything in the gloom.

Reaching inside my jacket, I drew out the torch I carried with me and flicked on the switch.

The beam lit up the inside stones of the well and as I let the shaft of light drift down, my hands shook. The beam lit a small pale hand and bile crept up the back of my throat.

Joshy lay at the bottom of the well, his neck twisted at an unnatural angle and his eyes wide and staring.

I flung myself backwards, away from the well and out of the bushes. Falling to my knees before I even had the chance to take more than two proper steps away from the shrubbery, my stomach decided to purge itself of the lunch I’d forgotten to eat, the bottle of water I’d consumed that morning crawling its way up my throat.

Tears dripped down my cheeks as I dug my fingers into the dry dirt of the backyard; from the corner of my eyes I could see the abandoned swing set, and it only served to make me retch harder.

He’d killed the boy, an innocent child….

There was just something about kids that really bothered me; they didn’t even have the chance to start their lives before it was snatched away from them.

Innocence lost.

But if Joshy was at the bottom of the well, then where the hell was his sister?

I’d dreamt about getting out in the field, of making a difference in the world. But I’d never imagined my first ride along would end like this….

Burying my face against my hands, I let my tears flow free. The day couldn’t possibly get any worse….

Chapter 8


Y
ou all right
?” Graham asked.

It was at least the thousandth time he’d asked me that same question since I’d found the body of the Sidwell son.

“No,” I answered him honestly. What was the point in lying? He’d only see straight through it anyway.

The shock had soaked into my bones, turning my blood to ice, and my teeth had started to chatter.

How was I supposed to do my job if I couldn’t handle something like this? For that matter, how did everyone else handle it and not fall apart?

Graham gripped my shoulder and squeezed gently, the look in his eyes one of pity and sorrow.

“How do you do it? How do any of them do it and not get bothered? We found a child’s body in a well in his backyard, a seven-year-old child, Graham….”

He nodded and dropped his gaze away from me and down to the floor.

“It’s just something you learn to deal with, Morgan. Something you have to.”

“But how?” I asked, my voice cracking over the words.

I didn’t want to be weak, and I sure as hell didn’t want to break down for a second time, but I couldn’t help it. I’d seen death before, but not like this.

I knew monsters existed. I’d known they existed for my entire life, my first clear memory as a child was of my mother slaying a demon.

It was a part of who I was, and yet I’d never experienced something like this. Children were supposed to be protected from all of this.

“It bothers me, but if I don’t keep it together, if I allow myself to feel the fear and the pain of that child’s loss, then how can I do my job? How do I hunt down the thing that killed him? How do I save his sister?”

“You think she’s still alive?” I didn’t want to feel hopeful, but I couldn’t stop it from creeping into my voice.

“I don’t know, but I’ve got to believe she is … If I don’t, then.…” He trailed off and I nodded.

I knew what he meant. I might not want to feel hopeful; it seemed so wrong as I watched the coroner and his team fished ‘Joshy’, out of the well.

But for his sister’s sake, I needed to hope; I needed to believe we would get to her on time.

I could save her.

“I’m sorry, Morgan,” Graham said, his voice gentle, and I turned to face him with surprise.

“Sorry? What for?”

“For this. If I’d have known, I wouldn’t have taken you; this shouldn’t be anyone’s first ride along.”

“I think we can stop pretending it was a ride along. You needed to see what I could do, what I was capable of, and now you know,” I said, my voice devoid of any emotion.

Earlier, I’d been so angry; he’d tricked me, made me think that he wanted to help get me out from underneath Jon’s thumb. But it’d been nothing but a pack of lies.

Just like everyone else in this world who knew what I truly was, he wanted to use me.

“Spill it,” I said, meeting his gaze square on, pushing aside the shock and pain I’d felt over the case we were standing in the middle of.

“Not here—we still have far too much work to do and Jon is on the warpath.”

I could just imagine what Jon would be like and I knew full well who was going to get the blame for everything.

“We should head back, so….” I said, flipping my hair back over my shoulder.

Most of it was stuck to my neck and it was a pointless gesture, but it was one I was so used to doing that I still did it. Cracking my knuckles, a wave of satisfaction rolled over me as the bones crunched into place.

“The cops are still pretty freaked out—are you sure it’s a good idea to just leave?” Graham asked.

I cocked my head to the side. Why was he asking me? He was the senior member of the Elite; I was nothing more than a rookie and asking me to make the decision made about as much sense as asking one of the cops milling around to take over the case.

“There’s nothing more we can do here, is there?” I asked.

“Did you get anything off the scene before Mrs. Sidwell woke up and started chewing on the tech guy?”

“She knew her attacker.”

I watched as Graham’s expression flipped over into surprise.

“That’s not possible—how could she have known her attacker? It was vampire.… From everything I’ve gleaned so far, she wasn’t a vamp groupie.”

“I don’t think so either, but she still knew him; he called her by name and she pleaded with him.… There was a familiarity between them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.”

Graham’s expression turned thoughtful and I had the urge to pester him with questions; he’d obviously thought of something but he wasn’t sharing it.

Glancing back over my shoulder, I watched as the coroner zipped up the small black body bag that housed the remains of Joshy.

The name his mother had called him still swirled around in my mind. It was an odd sensation. I could still feel what she had felt for him; her love was mixed in with my own emotions, making it almost impossible for me to differentiate where her maternal feelings ended and my own emotions began.

Stalking away, I made my way to the car. Whether Graham was coming with me or not, I wasn’t going to hang around the Sidwell’s house any longer.

There was too much I didn’t understand, and too many things I needed to get my head around before I could just get back to work.

Facing Jon was going to be hard enough and with my emotions in such turmoil, I just wanted to get it over and done with.

Graham caught up to me and dropped into an easy stride alongside me. “I’ve never seen you so eager to get back to Jon,” he said lightly.

“Well, I’ve never been involved in a shit storm of this magnitude before.”

Graham nodded and cast another glance over his shoulder at the scene unfolding at the house.

“No, that makes two of us.…”

I’d stopped listening to him when we reached the car, my gaze locked onto the man standing on the other side of the road.

He was leaning nonchalantly enough against one of the trees lining the street, but his intensity spoke of more than a passing interest in the scene taking place. His jeans were scruffy, the black leather jacket he wore over his tight white t-shirt lending him a bad boy vibe that told me he was all kinds of bad news. But he wasn’t a boy, and as I watched him I felt my interest in him pique.

He hadn’t shaved in a few days and his dark stubble was anything but designer. And yet there was something about him that told me he wasn’t living on the street.

I caught his eye and he smiled, a wide grin that seemed to light up his face and make him look much younger than I’d initially thought.

“Morgan, what the hell are you staring at?” Graham’s voice cut through my observation of the guy on the other side of the street, pulling my attention away for a split second.

“Doesn’t he look a bit suspicious to you?” I asked, gesturing across at the guy.

“Who?” Graham asked, and I flipped my attention back to the now abandoned tree.

“Shit,” I said, with a growl of frustration.

How the hell had he done that? People didn’t just up and disappear, at least nobody human….

“Never mind,” I said, sliding into the front seat. Slamming the door, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back onto the seat.

But my head was a jumble of everything I’d seen and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t clear it out.

There was only one thing that would help sort out the mess the case had created in my mind, and that was to solve it. Catching the bastard who had created so much pain and terror in the lives of these people…. That was the only way I was going to be able to close my eyes and not see Joanna’s dead ones staring back at me.

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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