Authors: Trish Milburn
“You can’t stand there and tell me you didn’t think I was totally gone as you watched me kill a man.”
He spins toward me. “I can say that,” he says, raising his voice. “Despite what my eyes were seeing, despite how it went against everything I’d ever been taught, I believed in my heart, deep down, that you could be saved. That there was still good in you somewhere.” He stares at me for a long moment. “I had to believe it, Jax, because I couldn’t stand the idea that the girl I loved was really gone.”
Praise for the Coven series
“Fresh, fun, and dangerous! I can’t wait for the next one!”
#1 NYT bestselling author of the
“I cannot wait to read the other books in this series.”
Roxy Kade Blog
“What’s not to love? There’s magic, romance, friendship, an evil coven on their backs. This is a great start in what’s measuring up to be a thrill ride of a series, and I’ll be re-reading the first until the next is released because I just can’t get over how enticing the story is.”
By Trish Milburn
Book One: WHITE WITCH
Book Two: BANE
Book Three: MAGICK
Book Three of the COVEN series
Bell Bridge Books
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Bell Bridge Books
PO BOX 300921
Memphis, TN 38130
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-61194-195-1
Print ISBN: 978-1-61194-178-4
Bell Bridge Books is an Imprint of BelleBooks, Inc.
Copyright © 2012 by Trish Milburn
Printed and bound in the United States of America.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
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Cover design: Debra Dixon
Interior design: Hank Smith
Cover Art © Christine Griffin
To Deb Dixon, Deb Smith, Lynn Coddington, and all the fabulous people at Bell Bridge Books for being such wonderful cheerleaders for the Coven series. You all are made of awesome!
I wake not to flames but a windowless stone room. For an addled moment, I think I’m in the basement of the herb shop. A stab of pain hits me in the heart, and tears pool in my eyes. Fiona, the woman who’d found her way into my heart as a sort of surrogate grandmother, is gone. Dead. Killed by the man who should have killed me instead. I blink against the tears and look at my surroundings. The bare room isn’t the hidden repository of witchlore below Wiccan Good Herbs. It’s also not the cold, snow-covered ground where I lost consciousness.
Where I killed Amos Barrow. Where I gave in to the darkness inside me. Barrow shot his gun at Keller, the boy I love, and I lost my last shred of control after fighting so hard to not let that happen.
Fear shoots through me, stealing my breath. Keller. God, is he even alive? Did Barrow take everything from me? The urge to kill him all over again wells up inside me followed quickly by nausea.
My stomach churns, and I turn to the side to retch. When I’m finished, I can’t even lift my hand to wipe my mouth. I’m chained to a big, thick chair that reminds me of a medieval throne. My feet are as immovable as my hands, and panic surges to the surface. I try to draw on my power, but it’s not there.
Oh, God, what has happened to me? Where am I? More images settle into my memory, one of red-cloaked figures surrounding me just before I lost consciousness. The Bane. Had Sarah played me all along, making me think she was working with me until she and the other members of the Bane had the opportunity to take me out? Did they capture Egan, too? What about Toni, Rule and Adele? I swallow hard again when I think of Keller and wonder if my actions led to his death? I can’t live with that. Losing him, losing my friends would be so much worse than losing myself.
“Kellar!” I hope for a response, but all I get in return is an eerie silence, not even an echo of my shout. “Egan!” I call out all of their names, one by one, but still nothing.
I imagine them all being held in rooms like this one, slowly going crazy as I am. Are they wondering where I am? A horrible possibility settles in my middle like a cold stone. Perhaps they know exactly where I am and have left me here to whatever fate the Bane decides for me. After all, they’d watched me murder a man in the most vicious way. They’d seen me become the thing I most feared, what I’d warned them about—a fully engaged dark witch.
I fist my hands in anger and frustration, instinctively trying to draw on my magic. But there’s nothing, not the least inkling of power. While there have been many times I wished I could leave my power behind, now that it’s gone I feel too vulnerable.
I take in my surroundings again, panic swelling more with each breath. Is it possible the Bane already stripped me of my power? Is there a way to do so without using a Siphoning Circle? Is that what the burning in my arm was after I slumped to the ground face-to-face with Barrow’s corpse?
I look at my lower arm but can’t see the damage because it’s covered with my long-sleeved T-shirt. But it doesn’t matter. More than anything, I need to find Keller. I have to believe he’s alive. I can’t even think otherwise. I yank against the manacles holding my wrists and ankles to thick metal rings. I pull so hard that sweat beads on my forehead and my joints ache with the effort, but it’s no use. I’m helpless, at the mercy of whoever walks through the door across from me.
The tears finally spill over and track down my cheeks. Not knowing Keller’s fate is killing me.
But do I deserve to know after what I did? Do I even deserve to survive when I killed a man? Yes, he was vile, a murderer, a legendary supernatural hunter who took his job much too far, but that didn’t give me the right to take his life. But I had, and I still remember the horrible sense of glee I’d felt rushing through me as I did it. When I gave in to that writhing darkness that had been itching to consume me since I drew it from the earth, I’d done much more than kill a man. I’d ceased to care that using that level of magic would endanger my friends and bring the covens to Salem in all their awful fury.
I swallow against the surge of bile. If the covens haven’t already arrived, they will soon. And I have no confidence I can save my friends from the vindictive evil of my family, of Egan’s, of all the other dark covens. I am nothing more than a complete and utter failure.
I lean my head against the high back of the chair and stare at the timber beams running along the ceiling. I try not to hyperventilate as I replay the events of . . . whenever that was that I killed Barrow. I feel hollow and raw inside, like someone has scooped out anything that had ever been good about me.
Once I get my breathing under control, I scan the room again but see nothing but smooth stone, what I think are cedar beams, a solitary light bulb on the ceiling, and this monster of a chair. I’m desperate for some means of escape, but there appears to be none other than the door across the room from me, which is no doubt locked. Not that I could reach it now anyway. But I have to get out of here, find my friends, make sure they’re safe. I’ll take whatever punishment I must, even their hatred, but I have to find them first.
But there are no windows, no other furnishings, nothing on the walls. I have no sense of how long I’ve been here, no idea if it’s day or night. The minutes stretch, but nothing changes.
“Hello? Can anyone hear me?”
No one answers, and I worry that maybe this is all in my mind as I’m dying. Maybe I am still on the ground, moments away from death. Did Keller actually kill me as I asked him to? Were the red-cloaked figures just a hallucination brought about by my imminent death? I shake my head. That doesn’t seem right. I remember a stinging prick in my neck followed quickly by fire racing along my veins. Poison? So I’m lying in the snow with poison burning the life out of me. Maybe it’s a fitting way to go for a killer like myself.
A couple more minutes tick by, and the fog surrounding what happened lifts a little. I consider that I’m not dead, but I’ve instead gone stark raving crazy. I’m drifting through thoughts I don’t want to have when the door suddenly opens. At first no one comes in, no one is even visible. I’m still out of it enough to think that I’ve imagined it. I know I didn’t do it because I’m currently as powerless as Toni and Keller.
I’m beginning to think it’s one of the spirits Keller and his father hunt when someone appears in the doorway and starts walking toward me. I blink several times, trying to focus. As the woman draws close, I recognize her. Sarah Davenport.
Anger explodes out of me, surging against my restraints until they catch me. “You! You did this to me.”
“Yes.” Nothing more. No apology, no explanation, nothing.
“You betrayed us. Where the hell were you? We needed help!”
“No, you are the betrayer.” Her words hit me like a punch to the gut because I know she’s right. “Because of you, the covens will return to Salem. And when they do, more people will surely die.”