A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One (7 page)

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
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Chapter 13

P
ausing outside the pharmacy
, I popped the painkillers and swallowed them dry. The disgusting, powdery residue that coated my tongue and the back of throat instantly made me regret my decision to skip a bottle of water, and I winced.

It was a small price to pay if it meant the crushing migraine descending on my brain cleared before it got its black claws into me. It was the same every time I exerted myself where magic was concerned.

I was weak, or at least, that was what I’d been told. Weak and incapable. A shame to the coven….

Heat burned along the edges of my cheekbones and I rammed the thought as forcefully as I could out of my head. Thoughts like that wouldn’t help.

They definitely wouldn’t help me, considering where I planned on going.

If Madeline got a hold of the doubts swirling in my head, she’d have a field day with them, and that wasn’t something I could risk. She was trouble enough without her finding a way to burrow beneath my skin.

Sliding the packet of painkillers back into my pocket, I quickly crossed the street and made my way down the nearest alley. Madeline’s wasn’t an establishment with any set location. It was simply in the nearest out of the way corner one could find, unless Madeline barred you.

And as far as I was aware, I wasn’t banned.

Reaching the end of the alley, I stared at the blank wall ahead of me. There was nothing to indicate there was anything of importance beyond the brick; yet, I could feel the magic pulsing along the edges of my skin, shimmering in the corners of my vision, lifting the hairs on the back of my neck.

Trailing my fingers against the edge of the bricks, I traced the rune Kenaz across the stones. It wasn’t technically accurate, runic study, along with a multitude of other aspects of being a witch, wasn’t my strong point. But it meant knowledge and revelation, and that was exactly what I needed from Madeline.

The symbol glowed for a second, a deep shimmering red that lit up the bricks and obscured my vision.

When the light disappeared, the alley was gone and I was standing in the entrance way to Madeline’s club, Sanctuary. The Fae had a twisted sense of humour and Madeline was no different.

She’d been banished from Faerie thousands of years ago; no one knew the real reason she’d been exiled, but suffice to say it would have to be pretty bad.

“Name, please?” A female voice dragged me back out of my own thoughts, and without thinking I tightened my grip around the hilt of my athame.

“I need to see Madeline,” I said, forcing myself to keep my voice level.

“Name,” the woman repeated, keeping her gaze trained on the enormous book open in front of her.

“Amber Morgan,” I answered with a sigh. There was no point in trying to hold out. She probably already knew my name before I’d even opened my mouth.

“Sign here, please…” she said, turning the book to face me. I could feel her gaze on me beneath the heavy fringe of midnight hair that fell across her face.

Picking up the pen, something sharp bit into me, my blood welling in the wound and trickling down the shaft instantly. She wanted me to sign my name in blood.

Shit.

This was bad. There was power in a name, power in blood, and to combine the two together was something I made a point to avoid.

“Don’t you have a normal pen, or….” I trailed off, and the woman behind the desk lifted her face to mine. Her eyes were barely discernible through her heavy hair, but I caught glimpses of them and they gave me the shivers.

Madeline was screwing around with demons now; it was her business but there was no way in Hell I was going to sign my name in blood for a demon.

“Sign or get out,” she said, her voice menacing as she continued to watch me.

I suddenly understood how the mouse felt when it realised it was being stalked by a cat.

“I told you—I need to speak to Madeline, and I’m not leaving until I do.”

It whipped its hand out, the fingernails extended into talons, the tips edged in black. This wasn’t just a possession; this was a full on blood-born demon. One of its parents had been human, normally the mother but not necessarily. The other half of the relationship had been something straight from Hell.…

I’d always wondered how it could work. I mean, there was absolutely nothing sexy about the smell of sulphur and dripping tar.

The hell spawn sank its claws into my hand and I gritted my teeth. If it thought I was going to scream for it then it was messing with the wrong witch.

“Lowly witches do not make demands; they take them….” Its eyes had darkened, the black of its pupils sweeping outwards to swallow everything surrounding it.

Whipping my athame from the back of my jeans, I brought the blade down hard, the silver passing easily through the demon’s human shell and pinning its arm by the wrist to the top of the desk.

It screamed, a long, wordless sound that had the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. It writhed on the end of the blade like a butterfly on a pin. It would get free, there was no question of it; it was just a matter of it working its arm free, and when it did….

The demon broke free and hurled its body over the top of the desk. I dodged its first blow, but it moved faster than my eyes could follow and its claws caught me square across the chest, shredding the fabric of my shirt and drawing blood.

“You’re not really a big fan of making friends, are you?” The voice made me jump and I glanced back over my shoulder as the demon paused.

The man standing behind me was familiar—something about his leather jacket—and then it hit me.

“You were creeping around at the crime scene earlier. Are you following me or something?”

“Or something,” he said, stepping up past me and scooping the blood pen from where it had fallen into the centre of the book.

He didn’t flinch as it dug its spines into his finger, the blood dripping down onto the page as he signed his name in an eligible flourish. Dropping the pen, he jerked his thumb in my direction. “Amber here is with me, Flora, all right?”

The demon studied him for a moment, a petulant expression on her face, and I knew she was contemplating kicking up a fuss.

Instead, she lifted her hand and sucked the blood from the tips of her claws.

My blood.

“Fine, but if she causes trouble, it’s your head,” she said, gesturing to a door off to her left.

It swung open, heat and music swirling out to greet me.

“I’ll remember you, Amber. It’s only a matter of time before I get my way, and when I do, Witch, you’re mine….” The demon named Flora winked at me.

Brushing off her threats, I caught up to the stranger, crossing through the door and into the club after him before the door slammed shut and disappeared once more.

Chapter 14


H
er name can’t really be
Flora,” I said, catching up to him.

He shot me a confused look, “why not?”

“What self-respecting, bad-ass demon calls itself Flora?” I asked, falling into step beside him as we moved deeper into the club.

The place was cavernous, and instinctively, I knew the place wasn’t a part of the human realm. However Madeline had managed it, she’d placed her Sanctuary into an alternate realm.

It couldn’t possibly be Faerie, and as far as I was aware it wasn’t Hell…. But I hadn’t explored enough of the place to know anything for certain.

The stranger grinned at me, his smile revealing a deep dimple in his left cheek and a wicked sparkle in his dark grey eyes.

“Maybe she has a sense of humour?” he volunteered, smothering the laugh that threatened to steal his words.

I stared up into his eyes and took a small step towards him. There was something so familiar about him, something that went beyond the glimpse I’d had of him standing outside the crime scene.

“See something you like?” he asked, his voice dropping to a sensual growl. It crept over my skin, and I could practically feel his hands sliding up underneath my shirt.

“Nope,” I lied, dragging my gaze away from his and returning my attention back to the club.

His laugh sent a flurry of excitement racing through my veins and it was an effort not to melt and throw myself into his arms.

“Where the hell are we, anyway?”

“This is Sanctuary. I thought you knew—you seemed so adamant to see Madeline,” he said, rambling on.

“No, I mean, where is Sanctuary? This isn’t the mortal realm, it feels too.…” I struggled for the right words, but I couldn’t find them.

There was something about the place that felt off.

“She won’t tell anyone where it is. She claims it’s her way of ensuring the Sanctuary’s safety, but I’m not entirely convinced. But hey, her house, her rules, right?”

He was right. It was up to Madeline whether or not she wanted to share the location with everyone, but I still wasn’t entirely convinced, and meeting Flora at the door had made me even more nervous.

Madeline was one of the Fae, banished from the Royal line—or at least that was how the story went. It still didn’t explain why someone like her would mess with something so dangerous.

Demons were not known for their restraint. So how was she keeping them in check? There was so much about the situation that didn’t add up, but that wasn’t why I was here.

“You seem to know your way around. Spend much time here?” I said, instantly regretting my choice of words. It sounded way too much like a bad chat-up line.

He grinned once more, flashing me the dimple for a second time, and my stomach flip-flopped in response. What the hell was wrong with me? I wasn’t normally so susceptible to the charms of handsome men.

You’ve got a job to do, Amber, and getting sidetracked by someone as sexy and generally drop-dead gorgeous as this stranger isn’t on the agenda.

He’d gotten under my skin, so much so that I couldn’t even give myself a proper pep talk without concentrating on all of his substantial attributes.

“You’re asking me if I come here often? I didn’t realise we’d reached that stage already,” he said, the strain on his voice telling me he was getting it hard not to burst out laughing.

Great, not only had he saved me, but I’d given him no reason to believe I was capable of doing my job. In fact, I was pretty certain I’d done the exact opposite in the very short amount of time we’d spent in each other’s company.

It had to be some sort of record….

I should write a book,
How to Make a Complete Tool Out of Yourself in Four Easy Steps or Less
. It would be a guaranteed bestseller and it would mean I wouldn’t have to witness the type of horror I’d experienced earlier.

“You know exactly what I mean. You’re deliberately making this awkward,” I said darkly, picking up my pace.

“Jeez Louise, are you always this touchy? Lighten up and learn to see the lighter side of life; in this line of work, it’s the only thing we can do.” He caught up to me and caught my arm, swinging me around to face him. He crushed me in against his chest.

I tried to fight his grip, but it was a half-hearted effort borne of the fact that he’d surprised me by grabbing me. Dipping his face, his lips met mine and my body went limp.

The urge to wrap my hands into the front of his jacket was overwhelming. Drawing him in closer seemed like a good idea, as he slipped his hands around my waist, cupping my body against his.

His tongue caressed my lips and I opened to him automatically, the kiss deepening and a small whimper of need rushed out of me.

He released me as quickly as he’d grabbed me and I stumbled backwards, my legs refusing to cooperate with my brain’s commands. I was supposed to berate him, slap him, but what for? I’d enjoyed it, goddess help me, but I’d liked it.

“Thanks, that was a little too close for comfort,” he said, darting a glance back over his shoulder to the retreating back of a particularly large and nasty looking bald guy.

“What?” I said, finding my voice buried beneath the knot of desire he’d created in my core. Without thinking, I lifted my hand and brushed my fingers against my lips. I could still feel the pressure of his kiss, the ghost of his touch emblazoned on my skin.

“I needed something to hide who I was; I helped carry out an execution against half of that guy’s crew last week. A particularly nasty nest of vamps….” He trailed off, his mouth dropping open. “Oh, you thought….”

“I didn’t think anything; the only thing I want to do right now is find Madeline and talk to her.” Heat flamed across my cheeks and I was beyond relieved that the lighting was so poor. That, at least, would keep my embarrassment to a minimum.

“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t think and—” he said.

Listening to him apologise only made me feel worse.

“It’s fine, don’t worry about it,” I said, trying to brush the topic off, but he caught my arm again and stared down into my face.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to, because believe me when I say I really want to….” His voice dropped to an appreciative growl and if the kiss had never happened between us, I might have been tempted.

Hell, who was I kidding? Even though the kiss had happened, maybe even more so because it had happened, I was tempted. But he didn’t need to know that.

I’d already made enough of a fool out of myself. I didn’t need to keep it up now.

“I said forget it, you just surprised me, is all,” I said, keeping my voice light.

He studied my face for a few seconds more, but I shrugged out of his grip and straightened my jacket before flipping my hair back over my shoulders.

His expression was confused and I couldn’t help but feel a sliver of triumph. The more he believed that I wasn’t in the least bit bothered by what he’d done, the better.

“But if you do that again, I will gut you with my knife and not think twice about it.”

He smiled, but I kept my expression steady. It wasn’t an idle threat. I wasn’t here to be used for his convenience; he’d saved my life but I didn’t know him, I hadn’t asked for his help, and it certainly didn’t entitle him to anything from me.

The smiled wilted around the corners of his mouth and it seemed to dawn on him that I wasn’t playing around.

With a nod, I twirled away from him and slammed straight into the broad chest of one of the ugliest demons I’d ever set eyes on. It glowered down at me, its shiny black skin a mess of cracks, and as it sucked in a deep breath, I watched each crack actually glow red like the glowing of a burning coal.

The heat that rolled from its skin forced me back a couple of steps, but it reached out and wrapped one huge clawed hand around my shoulder, lifting me as though I weighed nothing at all.

Pain flared through my body as the heat from the lava flowing below its skin seared into me.

“Get the hell off me.” I fought against its grip but it was like struggling against a marble statue. I had the same chance of shaking it loose as I did of winning the lottery by using my magic.

Impossible.

The pain continued to ebb and flow as I hung from its grip. Gritting my teeth, I slipped my athame from its position at my back. I would just have to wait for my opportunity, and once I had it, all I could do was hope and pray the dagger would be enough to cause the creature to think twice about messing with me.

If it didn’t, I was more screwed than I cared to imagine.

BOOK: A Grave Magic: The Shadow Sorceress Book One
9.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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