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Authors: Danielle Ellison

Tags: #love at first sight, #Paranormal, #teen paranormal romance, #demons, #young adult novel, #Witches, #first love

Storm

BOOK: Storm
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Table of Contents

A little salt. And a whole lot of magic…

Up until recently, Penelope was a witch with no magic. After having it stolen by a demon when she was just a child, Penelope had been forced to rely on sharing others’ powers as she went through the grueling training required to become an elite demon hunter. Now Penelope has more magic than she’s ever known. And when you’re this powerful, who needs salt to keep the demons away?

But power has a dark side.

Carter Prescott just wants to hunt demons and be with Penelope. But suddenly, witches who formerly had no magic are developing out-of-control powers. Now the world Carter swore to protect isn’t just endangered by malicious demons—it’s threatened by the same witches who once defended it. And Carter is horrified to see his girlfriend starting to change. Stronger. More powerful.
Unrecognizable.
It’s just a matter of time before Penelope transforms into something far beyond his worst fears…

a Salt novel

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Danielle Ellison. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 109

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at
www.entangledpublishing.com
.

Ember is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.

Edited by Stacy Cantor Abrams and Alycia Tornetta

Cover design by Jenny Adams Perinovic

ISBN 978-1-63375-073-9

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition September 2014

For Traci Inzitari, who has a magical soul and a selfless heart.

Chapter One

Penelope

Three days ago I went to hell.

Well, not technically hell. I went to De’Intero, the place between hell and earth that looked more like it was from a low-budget B-rated film.
Yesterday, I took my public vows to be an Enforcer, along with my boyfriend and my best friend.
Today, Ric, Carter, and I are card-carrying members of the C.E.A.S.E Squad, trained witches who serve and protect non-magical humans from demon attacks. Well, they’re not really cards so much as gold triangle badges. Even though a card would be cool. Like a modern-day realistic Ghostbuster. “Who you gonna call?” Penelope Grey, Enforcer.

Today’s a new day. First day as an official Enforcer. And how am I spending it? Running.

And the demon chasing me hates it. That’s part of why I enjoy it so much.

I scan the area as I move, looking for the easiest way to maneuver it away from the crowds. It’s busy in Clarendon today—Sunday brunch will do that—so I’ve got to get the little devil away from everything with a pulse. Except me. I glance over my shoulder to make sure the bugger is following me. It is, its eyes flashing demon-green in the Non body it’s possessed. I still hate when demons take over Non forms.

Sweat drips down my arms. It’s freaking hot out here—the summer is atrocious. I pick up speed, leading it away from the street and toward a park off the main road. But even from far away I can see how packed it is. There isn’t a lot of cover out here and none of the Nons can see me. The park won’t work. I change direction toward a dead-end street. Beggers can’t be choosy.

I mutter the barrier spells as I run, and smile to myself as I feel the magic pour out of me. I adore this feeling, the energy as the magic channels from me and out into the world. I spent most of my life not having magic on my own unless I was near someone in my family or, more recently, had Carter to pull it from. But that was before my little soiree in De’Intero. Now, I’m a freaking genie. I see it, say it, wish it, and sometimes even feel it, and
boom
—magic. It’s pretty freaking cool.

Freezing in the center of the street, the demon jerks to a halt feet from me. Its beady green eyes focus on me, shifting between brown and green in the Non skin. Brown eyes mean the Non is still alive in there.

“Witch,” the demon hisses. “Have you given up so easily?”

I shrug. The power practically oozes from my fingertips. At least, in my head it does. “I thought that you might reconsider your stance on trying to kill me.”

“Why would I do that? I know who you are.”

I try not to cock my jaw in annoyance. Three days ago I was nothing more than a normal witch (mostly), and now they’ve all heard about me. The girl who made the demons disappear. I was in De’Interno, about to die during a demonic Fight Club face-off, when Carter kissed me, and
bam
—hundreds of demons gone.

“Then you should be even more interested in reconsidering, since I’m a badass.” But it won’t. Not now that it has found me. I motion my fingers in the air. “Go ahead, then. Wow me with your witty, insulting last words so they may remain with me forever.”

The demon laughs, that familiar white noise sound, and licks its lips. “You really do smell like they all say.”

It hisses and charges toward me. Before, I’d run or I’d fight. I can fight—really well, I might add—but thanks to my new Hulk-like magic, I don’t have to do anything like that anymore. I get to use magic. I flick my wrist, and the demon freezes in the air, the sound of it gasping for breath fills the space.

I
tsk
and cross my arms. “And here, I thought you’d be more original.”

I let the images fill up my brain of the demon exploding, but then I remember the Non. I need to save him if I can. I alter the picture so the demon is forced out of the Non’s body. The Non rests on the ground while the demon explodes. I picture the Non recovering, breathing, living another day. I really don’t know what I can do yet with the void, not really, but if my increased power means more Nons are spared, I’ll take it.

I open my eyes and push the images out. “
Virtute angeli ad infernum unde venistis
,” I whisper, even though I don’t need to do that any more, either. It makes it feel more like I’m in control of what happens.

The magic from the void tingles through my toes and every cell in body before it shoots out of me toward the demon. I inhale sharply. I’m still not used to that feeling. With the essence, normally, we pull the magic from the elements and manipulate it to our will. It never actually becomes part of a witch. But this, the void, the source of magic for demons, seems to claim every piece of my body from within before it rushes out.

The screams from the demon piece the air, and then everything I saw in my head is happening to the demon. The Non falls to the ground as the demon shudders back into its original form, scaly with light gray and red eyes. Another snarl slips from its lips and it looks pretty angry with me right before it explodes into demon bits.

The magic from the void flows back into me and I stumble. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few days: the void is relentless. Whatever it wants, wherever it comes from—within me or outside of me—is more powerful than I ever seem to expect. The magic seems to settle into me, sort of like my stomach feels after eating too much pie.

“Penelope,” Carter yells, running up toward me out of breath. He looks around me, eyes switching between the demon goo and the Non on the ground. “I was waiting.”

I was supposed to meet him at the edge of the park. “I had to choose an alternative course of action,” I say as I pull out my phone and dial 911 for the Non. “I couldn’t go to the park. Too many people.”

Carter looks toward the Non on the ground as the emergency responder on the other end of the line asks me questions, and I give her only an address before I hang up. Carter starts walking away from the Non and I follow. As much as it sucks, we can’t stay to see if he survives. We can’t risk being questioned by Nons.

“I don’t like you using the void on your own.”

I sigh. Carter doesn’t approve, but it’s magic. Magic that I can control. “I didn’t have a choice.”

“You could’ve come to me like you were supposed to.”

I have magic. How can I not use it? “There were Nons around.”

“The whole area was under a cloaking spell.”

“It’s fine,” I snap.

“It’s not fine, Pen. You don’t know anything about that magic. Until we can get some sort of information, I don’t think you should use it,” Carter says as we walk back toward the park across the street. I bite my lip. He’s concerned about this sudden magical ability and what happened when we made the demons disappear in De’Intero. I am, too. I got magic right after we did that. Part of me should wonder too, that I should be cautious, but I also have magic—and that’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted. I have to use it. That’s the part he doesn’t understand. Finally, for the first time, I matter on my own.

“Do you not want me to have magic at all?” I ask. The sound of sirens fills the distance, and I scan the streets to try to find them. Eight minutes to arrive. Not bad, medics.

He pulls my face back to make me look at him. And it’s pretty easy to stay focused on his green eyes and dark hair and the little bit of scruff that’s starting to grow along his jawline. “That’s not what this is. I support you.”

The first time I met Carter I had no idea he’d become so connected, so important to me. It’s because of him, and the magic he’d ignited, that I even became an Enforcer. Before, I had no magic on my own. Then, we met and the magic I thought I’d lost bubbled in my stomach and freaked out when we were together. Somehow he made me have my own magic. It wasn’t until we learned it was because we were both half-demons, and that he had something I didn’t. I’d lost my essence to a demon, and he had both the essence and the void. His void, since he didn’t need it, filled my empty spaces so I had magic. It’s all very poetic, really.

But ever since we were downstairs, the magic is always on alert inside me. Even at his touch it remains this steady unsettling stream, like somehow, it doesn’t need him to respond to me. Like maybe the magic really is mine, and not borrowed from him. I can’t pretend it’s not a dream come true.

“I don’t want you to get hurt,” he says, wrapping his arms around my waist. My body folds in closer to his. Layers of clothing separate us, but through them I can feel the heat of his body against mine, all tingles and light. My stomach jumbles with the familiar sensation of being close to him, and he presses his lips against the curve of my neck. “We can’t risk anyone finding out anything about De’Interno or us.”

“They won’t,” I respond, forcing myself to speak under the strain of my voice.

Whether I turn to him or he turns to me doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter that we’re in public, or that we’ve killed a demon, saved a Non, or that everything is at stake. We have each other.

In a heartbeat, his lips are on mine. My body is on fire as warmth seeps through our clothes. As hands trail on my back, on my neck, on my hips—on anywhere he can touch me. My hand trails up his shirt and come to rest on his chest. Me connected to him, and him to me, the way our bodies sing together, it’s like we’re one. He pulls me tighter against him, and chills trickle down my body. There’s never enough of kissing this boy.

His mouth trails away from mine, and his hot breath is on my ear. “Please be careful,” he whispers, sending another chill over me.

I smile and press a soft kiss to his lips. “I’m always careful.”

He laughs against my skin, so close that the rumble of him trembles through me. I move to allow some space between us.

“What?” I ask.

Carter shakes his head. “It’s cute that you think that.”

I push him away, and he grabs my waist to keep me there. As if I was really going anywhere. “Shut up. I’m practically Scruff McGruff.”

He wrinkles his nose, and it’s adorable. “The crime prevention cartoon dog?”

“Exactly.” I smile, and he gets this mischievous look in his eyes, the one that says he’s ready for another kiss. I lean in as my phone beeps. Ric and Maple found a demon’s nest. “Back to work.”

BOOK: Storm
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