Magic Gifts Page 19

"Vodka, gin, rum, sweet and sour, and peach schnapps. Lots of peach schnapps."

I've never seen her drink before. "Do you actually get a buzz from this?"

"Sort of. It lasts for about thirty seconds or so and then I need another gulp."

I tried to think. Derek was back at the Keep, but I was pretty sure Ascanio should have reported to the office this morning. "Where is the bane of my existence?"

"In the shower, freshening up."

Damn it all to hell. "Oh God, who did Ascanio screw now?"

"No, no, he's covered in blood."

"Oh good." Wait a minute. "The kid is covered in blood and we're relieved. There is something wrong with us."

"Tell me about." Andrea eyed me. "Not going to mention my beastkin appearance?"

"I like it. The torn pants and gore-stained T-shirt is a nice touch."

She pointed her foot at me. "I was thinking of painting my claws a nice shade of pink."

Those claws were three inches long. "That would take a lot of nail polish. What about some golden hoops in the ears instead?"

Andrea grinned, baring a row of sharp fangs. "It's a definite possibility."

Okay, you know what, screw this. "What happened?"

"I saw Raphael this morning. I'd called him last night, because Jim put me on some shapeshifter murders and I needed to interview him. I asked for a chance to apologize."

Raphael, you spoiled moron, what the hell did you do?

I took her bottle and drank from it. I needed some alcohol for the next part. It tasted vile. I swallowed it down anyway. "How did it go?"

"He replaced me with a better model."

"He what?"

"He found another girl. She is seven feet tall, with breasts the size of honeydew melons, legs that start at her neck, bleached blond hair down to her ass, and her waist is this big around." She touched her claws together. "They are engaged to be engaged."

Of all the stupid, idiotic things... "He brought her here?"

"She sat in this chair right there." She pointed at a chair. "I'm thinking of burning it."

Andrea loved Raphael the way birds loved the sky and until a minute ago I would've sworn that he would run into the fire for her. "Did you punch him?"

"Nope." Andrea shook her head. "After he told me that his new sweetheart's best quality is that she isn't me, it didn't seem like it would make any difference."

"Is she a shapeshifter?"

"A human. Not a fighter. Not that bright either." The false cheer evaporated form her voice. "I know what you'll say - it's my own fault."

I wish I knew the right words to say. "Well, you did check out of his life. You checked out of my life for a while. It still makes him an asshole."

"Yeah, yeah." Andrea looked away.

Raphael was spoiled. He was handsome, and treasured by both his mother and Clan Bouda in general, but he was never mean or cruel. He was also the male Alpha of Clan Bouda. He had to know exactly what sort of risks he faced by bringing another woman and shoving her at Andrea. He had to have done it to provoke a reaction. The next time we met I'd pound his face into ground beef.

Still, I couldn't believe that there was no method in his madness. He'd chased Andrea for months and he'd won her. Perhaps this was some sort of stupid attempt to make her chase him.

"Are you going to fight for him?"

Andrea stared at me like I was crazy.

"Are you going to fight for him or are you going to rollover on your back and take it?"

"Look who is talking. How long did it take you and Curran to have a conversation after that whole dinner mess? Was it three weeks or more like a month?"

I arched my eyebrow at her. "That's different. That was a misunderstanding."


"He brought his new main squeeze here after you called him with a peace offering. That's a slap in the face."

"You don't have to tell me that. I know." Andrea growled.

"So what are you going to do about it?"

"I haven't decided yet."

I wasn't sure she felt Raphael was worth fighting for. But once, when I was in a really bad place, Andrea told me that she felt like being with Raphael had healed her. She said he was picking up broken pieces of her and putting them back together. Well, all the pieces had fallen now, and Andrea was trying to reassemble herself on her own.

I'd seen Andrea fight. I saw her in unguarded moment, taken over by bloodlust and rage. Raphael would have to tread very carefully, because whether she decided that she wanted him or revenge, nothing would stop her.

I tried to pick my words carefully. "Nothing is free. If you want it, you have to fight for it."

"I'm thinking about it," she said. "How did your day go?"

I nodded at the vampire head.

"That good, huh."


"I have a vamp body for you," Andrea said. "It's in the freezer."

I gave her a nice smile. "You shouldn't have."

"It's a bribe for putting up with my psychotic break."

The car motor came on. Curran got tired of waiting.

"That's my ride," I said.

The door swung open, and Curran walked in. I held my breath. Having Andrea and him at each other throats would be more than I could take.

Andrea got up.

A show of respect for the Beast Lord. I decided that breathing was a good thing.

Curran nodded to Andrea. I got up, too, walked over to him, and kissed him, just in case he was entertaining any violent thoughts. He winked at me.

"Hold on, let me grab the vamp head." I went to the back and got my head.

When I came out, carrying the head in a plastic bag, Andrea and Curran were still in one piece and joined by a freshly washed Ascanio.

I waved at Andrea and Curran and I went to the car. Ascanio tried to linger, but Curran looked at him, and the kid decided to follow us.

We got into the car and pulled away.

"And how did your day go?" I asked Ascanio.

He turned to me, a dreamy look on his pretty face. "We killed things. There was blood. Fountains of blood. And then we had barbecue."

Why me?

*** *** ***

When we walked through the doors of the Keep, Doolittle waited for us. Roderick's necklace had turned the color of white gold. He was having trouble breathing. The next magic wave would be his last.

Ten minutes later we rode out of the Keep in a Pack vehicle. Curran drove. I sat in the passenger seat, holding a bowl of jewelry and bullets for our offering. Doolittle and the boy sat in the back. Roderick whistled with every breath, and Curran drove like a maniac to the north leyline, his hands locked on the wheel, his face a grim mask. We reached the leypoint in record time and he didn't slow down as he drove the Jeep off the ramp into the invisible magic current. The magic clutched the car and dragged it north to the mountains. Magic or technology, the leylines flowed always and I was damn grateful for their existence.

The current carried us to Franklin, spitting us out at a remote leypoint, and from there we drove up a winding road to the Highlands. It used to be a ritzy destination, beautiful lakes and waterfalls, wrapped in emerald-green forests that spilled from the sheer cliffs. Million dollar homes, leisure boats, play-ranches with pampered horses... But the magic had wrecked the infrastructure and the residents quickly learned that the mountains in winter are much less fun without electricity and take-out. Now the homes lay abandoned or taken over by die-hard locals. Little villages sprung here and there, small remote communities whose residents peered suspiciously at us as we drove by.

Cliffside Lake was beautiful, but we had no time for sightseeing. Eight hours after we had left the Keep, we stood by a mountain scoured with white lightning whip marks.

I had expected an altar, or some sort of mark to show the right spot, but there was nothing. Just a cliff.

I dumped a bowl full of jewelry and bullets onto the rocks. They scattered clinking. "Ivar?"

Nothing happened.

Doolittle's face fell.

"Ivar, let us in!"

The mountains were silent. Only Roderick's hoarse breathing broke the quiet.

We should've gotten here sooner. Maybe the offering worked only during magic, but as soon as magic hit, the necklace would snap Roderick's neck.

"Let us in!" I yelled.

No answer.

"Let us in, you fucking sonovabitch." I hit the mountain with the bowl. "Let us in!"

"Kate," Curran said softly. "We're out of time, baby."

Doolittle sat down on a rock and smiled at Roderick, that patient calming smile. "Come sit with me."

The boy walked over and scooted onto the rock.

I sagged against the mountain wall.

"It's pretty up here," Roderick said.

It wasn't fair. He was only a boy... I put my face into Curran's shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me.

"Can you hear the birds?" Dolittle asked.

"Yes," Roderick said.

"Very peaceful," Doolittle said.

I felt Curran tense and turned.

A man walked up the path. Broad and muscular, built like he had to wrestle bears for his living, he had a wide face, lined with wrinkles and framed with a short dark beard and long brown hair. He wore a pair of soot-stained jeans and a tunic.

His gaze fell on Roderick. Thick hairy eyebrows crept up above the pale blue eyes.

"What are you guys doing up here?" he asked.

"We're looking for Ivar," Curran said.

"I'll take you to him." The man looked at Roderick and held out his hand. "Come, little one."

Roderick hopped off the rock and walked over. The dark-haired man took his hand. Together they walked up the steep mountain path. We followed.

The path turned behind the cliff, and I saw a narrow gap in the mountain, its walls completely sheer, as if someone had sliced through the rock with a colossal sword. We walked into it, stepping over gravel and rocks.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies