A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One (5 page)

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
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Chapter 9

hat the hell
do you mean I’m off the case?” I said, my voice going up several octaves as I hopped to my feet.

The smug expression on Jon’s face only made me curl my fists against my sides. I wanted nothing more than to wipe the smile clean off him.

What would he do if I actually punched him? The thought crossed my mind and I pushed it aside.

As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t punch him; he was still my boss. If I dragged him across the desk and hammered some sense into him the way I wanted to, then I would very quickly find myself in handcuffs and out of a job.

“You and I both know, with a case as high profile as this one, the Mayor wants someone with a little more experience handling it…” Jon said, his tone grating across my already frayed nerves.

After the things I had seen this morning, the last thing I wanted to hear about was what the Mayor wanted.

“Last time I checked, the Mayor wasn’t present this morning when I put down Joanna Sidwell, or at least whatever was wearing her meat suit,” I spat, anger fizzing in my veins, sending my blood pressure soaring.

Control it, Amber….
My mother’s voice spoke in the back of my mind. It wasn’t really her, but she’d seen me like this and my mind knew she was the only thing that could control my rage.

If I didn’t control it, then what little magic I did have was going to slip out, and I couldn’t afford something as disastrous as that happening in front of Jon.

Sucking a deep breath in through my nose, I unclenched my fists and rubbed my hands against the side of my jacket. An unassuming gesture, but one that allowed the magic that was sparking inside me to harmlessly discharge against the fabric.

“And this is exactly what I’m talking about. I can’t have a loose cannon like you running around calling Mrs. Sidwell a ‘meat suit’. She was a person, Amber, and that’s something you need to remember.”

“Whatever was controlling her wasn’t human.…”

“And how do you know she wasn’t a newborn? Vampires have rights, and without the proper lawful intervention we cannot put them down.”

I snorted a bitter laugh that seemed to both shock and disgust Jon in equal measure.

“You. Can’t. Be. Serious? She wasn’t a vampire, she was reanimated, and very much nothing more than a meat suit. The soul that had made Joanna Sidwell the loving and caring mother she had been was long gone when that thing attacked the crime scene technician and then me.…”

Jon sighed, but it was forced, his expression one a long-suffering parent might wear when dealing with a particularly difficult child.

“Amber, you’re new here and you don’t know how—”

I cut him off with an angry wave of my hands.

“Look, do whatever in hell you want, Jon, because it’s not going to matter what I say or do. I’m telling you what happened and you’re wilfully ignoring me. If you’re that bothered, ask Graham what went down, I’m sure he’s experienced enough for you and the Mayor.…”

Sharply turning on my heel, I started for the door. I needed to get out of the room, to get away from the fame-hungry toad sitting behind the desk before I did something I would regret.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going home to get a shower,” I said, “or do you and the Mayor not approve of me doing that either?”

Slamming the door open, the glass panes of Jon’s office rattled with the vibration. Part of me wished I could use my power; the sparks could at least shatter glass, and watching the shock crumple his face as every piece of glass in his office imploded in on top of him would seriously be worth it.

But I needed to remember why I was here. If I revealed what I was, then it was all over, and his sacrifice would have been for nothing.

“Amber, wait!” Jon called after me, but I kept going.

I wasn’t going to stop for him, not now. Pulling me from the case was a mistake and he would realise it sooner or later.

I might not know what had taken control of Joanna, but I had an idea of where to get answers.

But that wasn’t the only thing bothering me.

Joanna had launched herself at me—watching the way she’d snapped the bones of the crime scene tech and dug her fingers into his flesh as though his thighs were nothing more than chocolate pudding—It didn’t make sense why she hadn’t attacked me.

She’d had the time and the opportunity, so why hadn’t she taken it?

Instead, she’d turned on Graham. It didn’t make sense.

Neither did the fact that I’d seen some sort of intelligence lurking in her eyes when she’d stared at me.

Reanimated corpses didn’t have intelligence. The spark that had made them human was gone, swallowed by their death, but Joanna had been different.

“Where are you going?” Graham asked, catching up to me as I shoved out through the main doors of the Elite building and into the setting sunshine.

Nightfall was coming; I could taste it on the air but I still had a good hour before the sun really went down. It would give me time to swing by my apartment and catch the shower I wanted.

“Home, Graham. I need to get cleaned up before I lose my mind completely.”

“Did he pull you from the case too?”

I paused and spun around to face him.

“What do you mean? He didn’t pull you as well? He wouldn’t dare….” I cut off and nodded, another bitter laugh escaping me. “Of course he would….”

Graham gave me a wry smile and pushed his hand back through his salt-and-pepper hair.

“I took a rookie out into the field without pre-approving it….”

“That sounds far more polite than Jon would manage,” I said.

“Yeah, it was more along the lines of blatantly flaunting my disregard for authority. And my arrogance that endangered the lives of the police officers involved by taking such an unstable and volatile rookie out to a live case.”

“He said that? He said I was volatile and unstable?”

The choice of words surprised me. I knew Jon hated me, but this was something else altogether. What the hell had given him that impression?

I was pretty sure I hadn’t done it. This was our first real altercation and he’d spoken to Graham first.…

No, it didn’t make any sense. A sense of uneasiness unfurled in my gut.

“You’re not really going home to get a shower, are you?” Graham asked, cocking an eyebrow in my direction.

“Have you taken a good look at me? If you’d wrestled with the dead wouldn’t you be heading home for a shower too?”

“And afterwards?”

I bit down on my tongue. I couldn’t tell him where I was going; he already knew far too much about me and I didn’t want him involved any deeper than he already was.

“Just go back inside and file your reports, Graham. I’m tired and I really don’t want to play this game now.”

“Don’t then. Tell me where you’re going and I’ll come too….”

“Listen, I don’t owe you anything; in fact, if I’m remembering correctly, you’re the one who owes me answers. And after the little stunt you pulled today, even if you had a really good reason for it all, I still wouldn’t take you with me. So the sooner you accept that, Graham, the better for both of us.”

He studied me for a moment and then his expression hardened.

“I’m not someone you want to make an enemy out of, Morgan.”

“And neither am I, or are you forgetting already what I am?”

“Oh, I haven’t forgotten, but what you’re not understanding about me is that I’m a desperate man. I have nothing to lose, and that makes me dangerous.”

“You’ve still got your life, haven’t you…?”

He nodded and I smiled, but it wasn’t an expression of friendliness.

“Then you’ve still got something to lose, and to the monsters, that’s the only commodity they’re interested in.”

I stalked away before he could question me further. This wasn’t an argument I wanted to get into and I certainly didn’t want to have it on the side of the street outside the Elite headquarters, where anyone could hear it.

Catching sight of my car, I picked up my pace and relief washed through me. At least he wasn’t following; on a day as crappy as this one, I was going to count that as a win.

Chapter 10

the temperature of the water in the shower up to the max, I leaned against the wall and let the blistering heat scrape the blood from my skin.

The day really had just gone from bad to worse and there was nothing I could do to fix it.

Jon had clearly made up his mind; he wasn’t going to let me back on to work alongside whatever other Elites he decided could handle the limelight that a case as gruesome as this warranted.

But this wasn’t just something I could let go. I wouldn’t let it go.

I’d stared into Joanna’s dead eyes. It had been me she whispered her thanks to, and I’d had the vision about the truth of the matter. That wasn’t something I could ignore.

I’d witnessed her suffering, and a part of me now understood that I needed to see it through to the end. I couldn’t let her killer get away with it; he hadn’t just murdered her and her family, he’d desecrated her body and stolen her daughter.

That wasn’t something I could let stand.

Digging my nails into my palms, I tried to push aside the urge to hop out of the shower and immediately start hunting down clues.

The emotions were still overwhelming; it wasn’t something I had expected. Why did I feel so connected to Joanna and her family? Why was the urge to defend and avenge so strong within me?

It just didn’t make any sense.

Closing my eyes, I stood beneath the spray and imagined my magical barriers. My mother had always told me I should see a white light surrounding me and I’d pretended she was right.…

It didn’t really work like that for me, and as I closed my eyes and searched within myself, the shimmering blue barrier of light snapped around me.

It sparkled against the water making me shiver. There was something about it that was cold, icy in fact, and it never ceased to amaze me that this was the true colour of my magic.

It wasn’t supposed to be blue and silver. I was a white witch; I’d come from a long line of white witches and their magics had always been an angelic white.

Sucking in a deep breath, I searched along the edges of my barriers for a sign that they had been breached, but I couldn’t find anything.

The magic glistened in my vision and I sighed. Cold and beautiful, but utterly useless….

My inability to perform magic like the other white witches in the family was probably somehow connected to the colour of my magic. White was pure, and mine wasn’t pure….

I was nothing but a disappointment to my mother and her desire for a daughter with the same white witch power as her own.

Letting the shields sink back through my skin, I pushed away the dark direction my thoughts had taken. I was a disappointment, but she still loved me, and it was that love that allowed me to be here, to hunt those who had hurt us.

Switching off the flow of water, I stepped out of the shower and wrapped my blue towel around my body. Twisting my long, damp tendrils of red hair up into the second smaller towel, I balanced it on top of my head and peered at my fogged reflection in the mirror.

I could do this. I would succeed and nothing was going to stand in my way. The fact that Jon had kicked me off the case was nothing. I could do my own investigating.…

In theory, it seemed like a good idea, but where was I even supposed to begin?

The thought of where I had to go to once the sun went down filled me with dread. Going in alone wasn’t going to be easy, but it was just something I would have to do.

It seemed the price of getting back my peace of mind rested with solving this case and finding the Sidwell girl.

My stomach churned once more. The vampire had reduced Joanna to so much raw meat. His brutality was something I wasn’t used to witnessing; I wasn’t particularly familiar with vampires.

But I was almost certain they weren’t into chewing on their victims like a feral dog with its favourite bone.

Stop trying to talk yourself out of this, Amber. Suck it up and get dressed. Now is not the time to mope around. You’ve got work to do.

I did have work to do, and no time to hang around, either.

Moving away from the mirror, the faint sound of a floorboard creaking made me freeze. I’d locked the door on the way in, and yet I knew for a fact that that floorboard didn’t creak unless someone stepped on it.

Someone or something….

I’d tucked a little hex bag beneath it, ensuring that no matter what, if something crossed over it, I would hear it.

I wasn’t powerful, but I had some useful spells, and this was definitely one of them.

Grabbing the athame from my weapons belt, I crept to the door and peered into the bedroom. It looked empty, but the floorboard creaked once more and I tensed my body before creeping out into the room.

The thought of confronting something while wrapped in nothing but a towel didn’t thrill me. It was an accident waiting to happen, but then, perhaps the intruder was a prude and me being naked would shock them into submission.

It was a long shot, but I was willing to take any shot.

Reaching the bedroom door, I flattened my back against the wall and slid the door ajar, my gaze darting around the empty hallway.

What the hell was going on?

The apartment really wasn’t that big; it wasn’t possible that someone could hide so completely in such a tiny space.

Stepping out into the hall, I paused, my ears picking up a faint sound.

I swung around and brought the athame up, jabbing into the intruder. His calloused hand closed around my wrist, knocking the blow away, and his body collided into mine, ramming me back against the wall and knocking the air from my lungs before I could scream in frustration.

The towel slid away from my skin and the cool air from the open window in the hall wrapped itself around my body. But the man was gone, nothing but the lingering musky sent of his aftershave to let me know I hadn’t imagined him.

The front door burst open and Graham appeared in the hall, his gun unholstered and aimed in my direction.

“Woah, Graham, aim it at the ceiling,” I said, raising my hands in mock surrender.

Colour flooded his face and Graham swung away.

“Jesus, Morgan, I’m sorry—I didn’t mean, I mean, I did, I just … I thought you were.…” He trailed off.

Opening my mouth, I started to ask him what the hell his problem was, when the cold breeze from the still-open window made me flush.

Dipping to the floor, I grabbed the towel and hastily wrapped it tight around my body before diving back into the bedroom.

“Sorry, I was caught a little unawares…” I said, my voice doing little to hide the embarrassment that flowed through my body. “Just make yourself at home, I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

Why was he here and how had he known there was someone in the apartment? I’d been so certain that he hadn’t followed me, but obviously I’d been wrong.

Whatever was going on, Graham had a lot to answer for, and I was done waiting.

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
7.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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