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Authors: Gena Showalter

Magic at Midnight (7 page)

BOOK: Magic at Midnight
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There was truth in the vampire’s expression, truth and utter enjoyment. Everything inside Hunter froze. No. No! He couldn’t be a vampire. He’d rather die.

Hesitant, hand shaky, Hunter reached up. He could taste blood in his mouth, it was true, but the rest… His fingertips brushed over the small, very real puncture wounds on the side of his neck. He knew exactly what that meant.
No
, he thought again. He hunted vampires; he hated them. Before Genevieve, it had been his only purpose in life. “Now… you putrid sack of undead flesh.” Glaring, he pointed a finger at Barnabas, wishing it were a stake. “Why would you make me a vampire? Why didn’t you let me die?”

With a guilty flush, Barnabas hopped onto the dais. “I was in the bar the night those demons attacked you. When you fell, you were covered in blood and,
mon dieu
, you looked so tasty. I didn’t cop a feel or anything, if that’s what has you so worried.”

“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he shouted.
I’m a monster now. I’m the very thing I despise.
He knew a lot about vampires. They were—had been—his business, after all, and he’d seen many people make the change from human to beast. Oh, they tried to fight the urge to drink.

They never won.

Always the thirst for blood, for life, seduced and consumed them. They killed the people they once loved—and everyone else around them.
I can never allow myself to see Genevieve again.
The wretched thought nearly dropped him to his knees. Nearly felled him.

Barnabas has lived in Mysteria for a long time, and he hasn’t slaughtered the population.
Hunter paused, blinked. How seductive the thought was and he grasped onto it with desperation. Maybe he was wrong about vampires. Maybe vampires didn’t kill—

He squeezed his eyes closed. Such rationalizations were dangerous and could get Genevieve slain. No, he couldn’t see her, couldn’t risk it.

“Are you worried that you will no longer have a sexual appetite? You will, I assure you.” The vampire’s eyes stroked over him, stripped him, glowing a brighter red with every second that passed. “Despite the myths, you will function as you always did—except for the sunlight thing and the blood thing. Small prices to pay, really.”

“Considering what?” he snarled. “There are no advantages that I can see.”

“There are most certainly advantages.” Barnabas tapped a black-gloved finger onto his chin. “You’ll get stronger every day. Faster. You’ll be a force no man—uh, woman—can resist. Like
moi
. After a while, you’ll even enjoy taking blood. I pinky promise.”

“I’ll be a killer.” This wasn’t happening, couldn’t possibly be happening. He tangled a hand through his hair.

“You won’t be a killer.”

“Yes, I will.”


Mais non
, you won’t.”

“Yes. I. Will. Your continued arguing is really starting to piss me off.”

“Do you want to fight me?” Barnabas asked hopefully. “I’m always up for naked wrestling.”

Hunter bared his teeth in a scowl. As he did so, his incisors elongated. He actually felt them do it, sliding down, sharpening. He smelled the metallic twang of blood in the air—blood from a recent feeding Barnabas had enjoyed. How thirsty Hunter suddenly was. He shook with the force of it. “I can’t drink blood. I just can’t.”

“You smell me, don’t you? You want to sink your teeth into me? Go ahead. I already gave you blood, but you were asleep and didn’t get to taste the sweetness of it.” Barnabas motioned him over with a wave of his hand. “Taste it. You might like it. But you had better hurry. Soon my heart will shrivel up again, the blood gone, and there’ll be nothing left for you to taste.”

Hunter’s stomach twisted in revulsion—and eagerness. He found himself stepping toward Barnabas, closing the distance between them, unable to stop himself. He found himself leaning down, teeth bared, mouth watering.

Genevieve’s beautiful image flashed inside his mind.
She’s in trouble.
The knowledge flooded him, his psychic ability attuned to her. Even in death. He straightened with a jolt. Blood was forgotten. Only Genevieve mattered. “Show me the way out of this cave before I kill you, vampire.” He’d save her, then leave her.

Barnabas frowned. “You’re not ready to leave.”

“Yes, I am.”


Mais non
, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am. And you’re not French, so stop with the accent.”

“I haven’t taught you the way of our kind yet.”

Rage poured through him as if he’d drunk it. “
Your
kind, vampire. I will never be like you.”


Oui
, you will.”

“No. I. Won’t. Stop arguing. My woman is in trouble, and I
will
save her.”

“Fine. Go. I’ve already fed you, so you don’t have to worry about drinking for a while yet.” Barnabas’s eyes flashed red with jealousy. “But when the hunger hits you, you’ll come back to me. I know you will.”

* * *

“SHE
hasn’t stopped crying for three days.”

“She refuses to eat. She barely has the energy to sit up and drink the water I force down her.”

“What should we do?”

“I don’t know. I just… I don’t know.”

Genevieve heard her sisters’ hushed voices and stared up at the hole she’d blown in the ceiling yesterday. Why couldn’t she have done that the night of the brawl? The morning after Hunter’s death, her magic had returned to full operating capacity, but she hadn’t needed it. And now she didn’t care.

“Should we call a doctor?”

She rolled to her side, placing her back to her sisters. Why wouldn’t they leave her alone? She just wanted peace—from their voices, from life. From the flashing, bloody images of Hunter’s death.

“Genevieve, sweetie, we know you’re awake. Talk to us,” Godiva begged, her tone tinged with concern. The wolf she had saved plopped at her ankles and nudged her hand, wanting to be petted. “Tell us how we can help you.”

“Bring Hunter back to life.” Her throat ached from her crying. Raw, so raw. Like her spirit. “That’s all I want.”

“We can’t do that,” Glory said softly. “Raise his body from the ground, yes, but the risen dead become predators. Killers. You know that. The longer the dead walk the earth, the hungrier for life they become. He would eat you up and spit out your bones.”

Yes, she knew that, but hearing it tore a sharp lance of pain through her. One moment she’d had everything she’d ever dreamed, the next she had only despair.
Hunter
, her heart cried.

“The surviving demons are destroying Mysteria,” Godiva said. “We need your help to stop them.”

“I can’t.” Strength had long since deserted her. More than that, any concern she’d had for the town and its citizens had died with Hunter. “I just can’t.”

Glory claimed her right side, and Godiva sat at her left. Surrounding her. “His funeral is today. Do you want to go?”

“No.” She didn’t want to see him inside a casket. A part of her wanted to pretend he was still alive, simply hiding somewhere. “Why did he have to die? Why? The love potion had worked. He wanted me as much as I wanted him.”

“Uh, um.” Glory looked away, at anything and everything but her sisters. “Humm.”

Godiva’s eyes narrowed. “What did you do, Glor?”

Pause.

“Glory!”

“Well, Evie asked for a love potion. I didn’t think Hunter deserved her, and knew if he loved her for one night, then dumped her the next day, she’d be devastated.”

“What did you do?” Godiva repeated.

Another pause.

“Don’t make me ask again,” Godiva said, raising her arms as if to cast a spell.

“I, uh, sort of gave her a power depressant instead.”

“Sort of?”

“Okay, I did. But I didn’t mean any harm. I thought it would be okay. I didn’t think she’d need her powers.”

The sorrowful fuzz around Genevieve’s brain thinned.
Power depressant,
echoed through her mind. How many spells had she attempted with no results? One spell, that’s all it would have taken to save Hunter. One spell, and the night would have ended differently.

She squeezed her eyelids closed, wave after wave of fury hammering through her, each more intense than the last. “He’s dead because I couldn’t help him. He’s dead because I couldn’t use my magic.”

Her younger sister’s cheeks bloomed bright with shame, then drained of color with regret. “I didn’t think you’d need them. I didn’t even think you’d notice.” She clutched Genevieve’s hand. “I’m so, so sorry. You have to believe I’m sorry. But think. Hunter wanted you. Not because of a potion, but because of
you
.”

Genevieve’s fury fizzled, leaving only despair; her muscles released their viselike grip on her bones and she sank deep into the mattress. Hunter had wanted her. Truly wanted her, without the aid of a love potion. All the things he’d said to her had come from
him
.

That made the pain of his death all the harder to bear.

I killed him. I killed him!
If she hadn’t decided to make Hunter love her, no matter the methods used, if she hadn’t made a wish for excitement, he would still be alive.
My fault. All my fault.
Hot tears slid down her cheeks.

“Please. Leave me alone for a little while. Just leave me alone.”

* * *

HUNTER’S
funeral had begun an hour ago.

The digital clock blurred as Genevieve’s eyes filled with tears. Any moment now, they would lower his casket into the ground and the cycle of his life—and death—would be complete.

Sobbing, she turned away from the glowing red numbers and mashed her face into her pillow. She’d never been so miserable. Her sisters had gone to the funeral. Genevieve simply wasn’t ready to say good-bye.

She cried until her ducts could no longer produce tears. She cried until her throat burned and her lungs ached. Then she remained utterly still, absorbing the silence, lost in her sorrow. Minutes later, or perhaps an eternity, a buzzing sound reverberated in her left ear, and a fly landed on her cheek. Weakly she swatted the insect away.

“Bitch,” she heard.

“Murderess.”

“I wish
you
would have died instead.”

Genevieve rolled to her back and blinked open her tired, swollen eyes. Three tiny fairies swarmed around her face, flashing pink. All three were female and scowling. She recognized them from the bar.

“You killed him,” one of them hissed.

“You killed him,” the others reiterated. “You could have used your magic against the demons, but you didn’t. You killed him.”

You killed him.
Yes, she had. “I loved him.” She’d thought her ducts dry, but stinging tears beaded in her eyes.

“How could you love him? You don’t care about him. The demons have sworn their vengeance upon him for killing their brethren and are even now desecrating his grave, yet here you lie, doing nothing. Again. Someone even took his body from its casket.”

“What?” She jolted upright. A wave of dizziness assaulted her, and she rubbed her temple with her fingers. “Desecrating his grave, how? And who dared take his body?”

“Does it matter?”
Buzz. Buzz.
“Your sisters are fighting the demons off, but they cannot do it without you, the witch of vengeance.”

Without another word, Genevieve leaped out of bed. Her knees wobbled, but a rush of adrenaline gave her strength. Arms shaking, she tugged on the first pants and T-shirt she could find, then raced through the hallway. The wolf—what had Godiva named him?—trotted to her, following close to her heels. He was almost completely healed, and his brown eyes gleamed bright with curiosity.

“There’s trouble at the cemetery,” she felt compelled to explain. Trouble she would fight against. Heart racing, she grabbed her broom and sprinted outside. No one—no one!—was going to destroy Hunter’s grave. Whoever had taken him
would
return him.

Moonlight crested high in the night sky, scooping low. The citizens of Mysteria did everything at night, even funerals. A cool breeze ruffled her hair and kissed her fiery hot, tear-stained face. Moving faster than she ever had in her life, she hopped on her broom and flew toward Mysteria’s graveyard. When she passed the wishing well, she flipped it off. When she passed Knight Caps, closed for the first time in years, she pressed her lips together to silence a pained moan.

Soon the graveyard came into view.

Monuments rose from the ground, white slashes against black dirt. Only a few patches of grass dared grow and the only flowers were silk and plastic. Death reigned supreme here. Broken brick surrounded the area with a high, eerie wall. The closer she came, the more chilled the air became, heavier, laden with the scents of dirt and mystery.

Her eyes narrowed when she saw the open, empty casket. Her eyes narrowed further when she saw the group of demons taunting her sisters and spitting on Hunter’s grave.

Hunter’s mourners must have already escaped, for there was no trace of them. Her sisters were holding hands and pointing their fingers toward the short, monkeylike horde of demons whose wings flapped and fluttered with excitement as they tried to claw their way through an invisible shield.

Both Godiva and Glory appeared weakened and pale, their shoulders slumped. Genevieve dropped to the ground, tossing her broom aside as she ran to them. She grabbed both of their hands, completing the link. Power instantly sparked from their fingertips. In pain, the demons shrieked.

“Thank goodness,” Glory breathed. Her hands shook, but color was slowly returning to her cheeks. “I wasn’t sure how much longer we could hold them off.”

“There weren’t this many left at the bar.” Right now Genevieve counted eight. “Hunter and Falon killed a lot of them.”

“They keep multiplying,” Glory said. “I have a feeling we can kill these, too, but more will come. You’re the vengeance witch, Evie. Do something.”

Genevieve focused all of her rage, all of her sorrow into her hands. They burned white-hot. Blistering. Her eyes slitted on her targets. “Burn,” she said. “Burn.”

One of the demons erupted into flames, its tortured howl echoing through the twilight. Another quickly followed. Then another and another turned to ashes, until only one remained. “Go back to hell and tell the others if they ever return I’ll make their deaths a thousand times worse.”

BOOK: Magic at Midnight
8.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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