Read Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1) Online

Authors: Teresa Reasor

Tags: #Romance, #Urban, #Fantasy

Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1) (21 page)

BOOK: Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1)
13.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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*     *     *

Watching the three
women work together, Caleb realized they’d developed a sisterhood much like the brotherhood he’d experienced in the Marines. They had a common goal, not to destroy but to protect. Too many people lived on the residential street, and they’d all expressed their worries on behalf of the neighbors and the neighborhood.

While the women worked on a complex spell using crystals, Caleb shifted his attention to Chase, sitting next to him. He’d noticed Miranda and Juliet’s response to his comment about being locked up. “I wouldn’t try and fuck over these ladies if I were you.”

Chase’s pale eyes narrowed. “I was just stating what might happen if the rest of the world realizes witchcraft is real.”

“That isn’t how it came across. You might want to smooth it over with them before you find yourself on the wrong end of their broom.”

Chase chuckled.

Caleb tilted his head toward the three. “Does it look like they’re playing around?”

The large crystal Juliet held began to glow amber.

“No, it doesn’t,” Chase said. “I have four dead men tied to the same case, so I’m taking this pretty seriously myself.” His frown deepened. “I can’t do a damn thing to protect them. And I’m not about to interfere with their ability to protect themselves.”

Caleb nodded. “Eight years in the Marines, and with all the skills I acquired, I can’t do a damn thing either.”

“I’ve read your file.”

Caleb raised a brow.

“Why an auto mechanic? You could have gone into police work. Started your own security firm. You have a two-year college degree, and you’re an expert marksman. You were coming up the ranks. I’m surprised you didn’t stay in until retirement.”

Caleb loosened the fists that had automatically clenched. “I’d had enough of taking orders, and giving them.”
And when I do have to give them now, nobody dies. And nobody is shooting at me.
He rolled his head to relieve the knots in his neck. “When I’m under the hood of a car, with my earbuds in, I’m as far from that as I can get. I have two other guys working for me, providing for their families with what I pay them. Word’s getting out about our work, and I’m making a success of it. I’m building something here. Providing a service to my community.”
And I don’t have to do any of it with a gun in my hand.

He’d told Miranda all this and more. And she hadn’t said a damn thing about any of her deepest secrets. The disappointment and pain pinged again. Although the detective’s quick assessment had helped him understand why she held back for so long.

He’d fought against people who killed in the name of religion. Fought for people who had been oppressed by power-hungry assholes who used religion like a lash, a club. And she had given up hers and a huge piece of who she was to fit into a society that had at one time burned her kind at the stake.

Was this why she had held back for so long, or was it something more? She and Juliet had spoken about Clay Maddox last night. Their stepfather had left back when they were juniors in high school. After so long, what could he have to do with any of this, or them?

Miranda approached them. He read exhaustion in the way she stood, the curve of her shoulders.

“We’re getting ready to open the circle, but we want to call the quarters first. We’ve delayed doing that part so we can recharge our power before we expose ourselves to what’s out there.”

Caleb rose to his feet and offered Chase a hand up. She handed Caleb a green pillar candle, the small bowl of salt, and a book of matches. “Place these at the corner of the square between the spokes of the pentacle and light it.”

“Will do,” he said, and turned aside to do as she asked.

She moved away to gather her own candle and a small clay bowl of water.

The candles lit, Aubrey raised the ceremonial athame, made the sign of the pentagram and pointed toward the East. “My element is air. I call upon the God and Goddess to boost my strength from up above, to twist and turn, lift, blow, and shove. To sweep aside the threatening evil, and carry away all its upheaval. By the power of all and me, so mote it be.”

A stiff breeze whooshed through the room and spun around the circle clockwise, lifting their hair and causing the women’s long skirts to billow. Caleb sensed Chase’s restless movement beside him.

Aubrey turned and handed off the dagger to Juliet.

Juliet stood, feet braced, and thrust her arm toward the South powerfully before carving a symbol in the air. “My element is Fire. I call upon the God and Goddess to boost my strength, to light the way. To bind knowledge and justice, this course I’ll stay, to smite this threat with a fiery lash, and burn its power to useless ash. By the power of all and me, so mote it be.”

A current passed around the circle like static electricity. The lit candles placed around the circle sputtered and then the flames shot up a foot or more.

Juliet offered the athame to Miranda, who pointed it to the East, drew the pentacle, and said, “My element is water. I call upon the God and Goddess to boost my strength to fill and flow, to temper my quest with intuition and know, that good shall prevail, strong and right. This evil will end, starting tonight. By the power of all and me, so mote it be.”

The waterfall sound of rushing water filled the room, and a mist billowed in the air, then dissipated.

Caleb accepted the ritual knife from Miranda and raised it to make the symbol and point to the North. He held the paper Aubrey had given him in his cupped palm and read the words. “My element is earth. I call upon the God and Goddess to boost my strength to cradle. In heart and hand I will hold those I love stable. Until ’tis time to bring my power to bear, against the evil who will dare, bring harm to those for whom I care. By the power of all and me, so mote it be.”

A surprising feeling of warmth worked its way up through the bottoms of his feet to the top of his head. The hairs on his arms stood up. He glanced at Chase. The man was rubbing his arms, and his brows rose. Caleb waited for the feeling to ease back down before he passed the athame back to Aubrey.

She bent her head. “We offer our gratitude and our love for thy blessings and gifts, Lord and Lady.” She raised the blade once more and again pointed to the East, “By thy breath.” Turning, she pointed to the South, “By the power of thy loving spirit,” West, “By the cradling waters of thy womb,” North, “By the strength of thy body, we open this circle. So mote it be.” She lowered the athame.

The sudden release of the barrier around them was like dropping a curtain, and Caleb was surprised not to feel another billowing of air as it hit the ground.

A bone-chilling chorus of screams rose and built from outside until it hammered against the windows, the walls. For a moment he expected the door to fly open or the windows to break, but all stood firm.

Miranda had shifted her stance and now relaxed and murmured, “Blessed be.” The other two echoed the sentiment.

They’d have to take on the power sooner or later. But for now the barriers were holding.

Chapter 21

T
he release from
their hours of concentration left Juliet physically exhausted, yet her mind raced. Caleb and Miranda’s conversation with Aubrey fell to a quiet murmur as the three went into the kitchen. Juliet glared in frustration at the shadow creatures. They paced back and forth in the pools of light, their movements strangely graceful and nearly identical. Were there really that many of them, or had the witch responsible mirrored the actions of just two or three to make it appear there were more?

If one witch was responsible for all this, and she’d sustained it all this time, she was bound to be getting tired. The three of them, working together, might be able to take them out right now.

Chase wandered over to stand next to her. He braced an arm on the wooden facing. “I don’t like you being this close to the window.” Beneath his light brown eyebrows, his pale eyes looked almost gray. “One of those things might reach through.”

“Aubrey has set protective wards on all the doors and windows. We’re safe—for the night at least.”

“You have that much confidence in her ability?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Just for my peace of mind, come have a seat with me on the couch.”

Juliet allowed him to guide her to the overstuffed sofa. When he sat close enough that his knee brushed her thigh, she looked up to study his face.

“I’ve been thinking.”

“Uh-oh.”

He shot her a wry look, then grinned.

Her stomach tumbled and she felt a twinge in her chest. She hadn’t seen him smile before. It lent his masculine features a charm she wasn’t expecting. His blond hair, cropped short, lay close to his head, as controlled as the rest of him. She wondered what it would be like for him to lose himself in passion. “What is it you’ve been thinking about?”

“It’s more curiosity than a question. I was hoping you could satisfy me—ah, my curiosity.” The tops of his ears reddened.

Was that a Freudian slip? Juliet bit her lip and looked away, the urge to giggle strong. “About what?”

He rubbed his palm along his jaw. He’d never shown any uncertainty before, so why now?

“If witches really exis—”

Juliet raised a brow. How much more proof did he need?

“What else is out there I don’t know about?”

Would he believe her? And if he did, how much time would he spend wondering about his friends and coworkers? It might make him doubt them. It might also make him doubly wary of the people he arrested, which could save his life. But it could also affect the way he did his job.

Members of the preternatural community went out of their way to live under the radar. And they policed their own when someone decided to go rogue. It was better if they took care of business quietly instead of turning it over to the cops.

“This situation will probably be the only one of its kind you’ll ever have to worry about.”

She could see his relief, and guilt struck her. Was she putting him in danger by not telling him the truth? Maybe she should. In her experience, men could only deal with one thing at a time. After they got through this, she’d break the news to him.

Guilt drove her to her feet, and she went to look out the window again. The shadows were gone. The pools cast by the streetlights held nothing. Chase stood close behind her, his body heat reaching out to warm her. He was a detective. He carried a gun. He could protect himself against the Willy Porters and Gerald Abbotts of the world. The temptation to lean back against him was strong. “They’re gone, Chase.”

“I see that. What else is out there, Juliet?”

She turned to look over her shoulder at him, her arm brushing his chest. Instead of moving back, he splayed a hand against her back. She felt protected, and the look of demand in his eyes escalated her attraction into an ache of desire. Her gaze settled on the firm well-shaped curve of his bottom lip. She was tempted, very tempted, to align her body with his and reach for more. It would distract him from the question she was trying to avoid.

But he couldn’t protect himself against what waited out there. And she couldn’t be responsible for another man’s death. She couldn’t.

Pulling her thoughts back to his question she sighed. “Knowing won’t make your job easier, Chase. And I can tell you love your job. Men identify with what they do so closely. They judge their worth by what they do. You don’t want to allow all this crap to take root inside your head to ruin it for you.”

“You wouldn’t be trying so hard to avoid the question if it weren’t something really bad. All the mythical creatures you see on TV?”

“Some.”

“Shit!” He first looked surprised at her answer, then pissed. She could almost see the ideas working through his head.

“Most of the time things are taken care of on the down low. You won’t be called in to deal with it. If Miranda wasn’t such a Goody Two-Shoes, you’d never have known about the spells. I certainly wouldn’t have given them to you.”

“Who would you have given them to?”

“We’re not associated with any coven. We’d have had to deal with it on our own. And you wouldn’t be in danger right now simply because you got involved.”

“I was already involved. The autopsy reports are on my desk to prove it. I’d never have stopped looking for the reason behind those men’s injuries.”

That pit bull attitude was what made him a good detective, but might also get him killed. But not if she could prevent it.

Her attention swung to the street again. Small glints of light sparkled on the lawn. She frowned. What the hell was that? Realization hit her, and she began to shake. Her stomach quivered. “Oh shit!”

“Spiders,” Chase finished for her.

They turned as one and ran for the kitchen. “We have a problem,” Chase announced. Miranda, Caleb, and Aubrey jumped to their feet.

“The spiders that attacked the car are outside,” Juliet finished for him.

“They can’t get through my wards,” Aubrey said, her tone soothing.

Chase turned an expression stony with concern on her. “We’re talking about things that are able to eat through a windshield, Aubrey.”

BOOK: Deep Within The Shadows (The Superstition Series Book 1)
13.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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