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Authors: Jaye Wells

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The Mage in Black

BOOK: The Mage in Black
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I barely had time to gasp a few gulps of air before Mischa knocked Adam down and came after me.

I backed down the aisle, pulling the apple-wood sticks from my hair. Behind Mischa, Adam went after Fatty in a blur of motion. I didn’t have time to see the outcome of his attack, because just then Mischa produced nunchucks from her back pocket. With a self-satisfied grin, she swung them overhead like helicopter blades. Cans of Spam and packages of pork rinds flew to the floor as she advanced.

I retreated until I hit a dead end at the row of drink coolers at the back. The gunfire earlier had shattered the glass and most of the bottles and cans, but I managed to find a bottle of apple juice among the wreckage. I popped the top and tossed the contents in Mischa’s face. She inhaled sharply out of surprise, forcing the forbidden fruit juice into her system. I ducked the flailing nunchucks and slammed a chopstick down at an angle behind her collarbone.

Mischa jerked back, falling into a display of Doritos. Her body ignited, and the chips went up in flames with her. The resulting odor was a bizarre mix of smoke, apple, and nacho cheese. In addition to the oddly pleasing scent of Mischa’s death, I experienced the sweet taste of retribution on my tongue. Mischa might have tormented me for years with jokes about my shameful birth, but I’d just gotten the last laugh.

Praise for
Red-Headed Stepchild:

“Brassy, sassy, and hip.”

—Kat Richardson, author of
Poltergeist

“Hold on tight—a gritty new heroine has joined the pantheon of shoot-first, ask-questions-later protagonists.”


Romantic Times

BY JAYE WELLS

S
ABINA
K
ANE
N
OVELS

Red-Headed Stepchild

The Mage in Black

Green-Eyed Demon

Copyright

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 © 2010 by Jaye Wells

Excerpt from
Green-Eyed Demon
copyright © 2010 by Jaye Wells

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Orbit

Hachette Book Group

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New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at
www.HachetteBrookGroup.com

www.orbitbooks.net

www.twitter.com/orbitbooks

Orbit is an imprint of Hachette Book Group. The Orbit name and logo are trademarks of Little, Brown Book Group Limited.

First eBook Edition: April 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-07124-6

Contents

Praise for Red-Headed Stepchild:

By Jaye Wells

Copyright

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Acknowledgments

Extras

Meet the Author

A Preview of
Green-Eyed Demon

For Spawn,

who is never allowed to read this book.

1

T
he Kum-N-Go’s roadside-chic interior was bathed in a sickly fluorescent glow. The aroma of stale smoke, urinal cakes, and rotgut coffee had me breathing through my mouth on the way back to the ATM. It was my turn to pay for gas, so getting cash took priority over raiding the snack aisle for the moment.

While I entered my code and waited, Adam chatted with the attendant at the front of the store. He glanced over and raised his eyebrows. I lifted a finger and took a moment to admire the way his ass filled out his jeans. Even after sitting in a car for two days straight, he still looked hot with his stubble and road-weary smile. Too bad the mage part made him off-limits.

Before I got caught staring, I moved my gaze to the window. Adam’s SUV and my cherry red Ducati provided the only scenery in the empty parking lot. The bike’s 180 horses rested docilely on a trailer behind Adam’s behemoth. Before we’d left California, he’d argued I wouldn’t need wheels in New York, but I held my ground. That motorcycle was the only good thing left of my old, broken life. Leaving it behind wasn’t an option.

A flash of white caught my attention as Stryx landed on the roof over the gas pumps. The red-eyed owl had followed us all the way from California, and I assumed he’d be joining us in New York. I’d gotten so used to seeing him, I no longer questioned his reason for following me. He never caused trouble, which was more than I could say for my other companions on this road trip from hell.

The headlights from a midnight-black Mercedes lit up the window. It pulled in on the other side of Adam’s car, so I couldn’t see the driver get out. I waited to see if he’d come inside to pay, but loud beeping from the ATM grabbed my attention.

I took the clump of twenties the machine spat out and stashed it in my pocket, relieved the account still worked. Registered under a false name through a bank in the Caymans, the account held the bulk of my savings. When I’d set it up, it was a better-safe-than-sorry measure, but now it was all I had left to my name.

I was turning toward the front of the store when the three redheads came around the back of Adam’s car. My heart sputtered and then kicked into overdrive.

How’d they find me so fast
?

“Adam! We’ve got company!” With one hand, I reached for my waistband and grabbed for my gun. I cursed, realizing I’d left it in Adam’s center console along with a box of apple cider bullets. After a few days on the road with no sign of trouble, I’d grown complacent, and now I was about to fight three assassins armed with nothing but the pair of apple-wood chopsticks that held my hair back. Awesome.

The mortal male behind the counter wore a red smock with a nametag that read “Darrell.”

“Go lock yourself in the storeroom,” I told him.

“Huh?”

I flashed my fangs and pulled him bodily across the counter. “Get the hell out of here!”

Wetness spread across the front of his wrinkled khakis. He stammered for a moment, then turned tail and ran toward the back of the store.

Adam had already spotted the trouble. “Friends of yours?”

I turned toward the door, watching the three vampires make their way toward us. “The one on the left is Nick Konstantine. Likes to get stabby, so watch your back.” Nick was the kind of vamp who gave the rest of us bad names. He liked to rape his prey before draining them. Nasty dude. “The big guy is Fatty Garza.”

“What’s his specialty? Eating his opponents whole?”

“Something like that.”

“And the female?”

I narrowed my eyes and gripped my gun tighter. “Mischa Petrov.” Just saying that bitch’s name left a bad taste in my mouth.

Adam parted his lips to say more, but the assassins stopped about ten feet back from the door. Mischa’s eyes met mine through the glass doors. She smiled snarkily and nodded.
You ready to die, bitch?

I raised an eyebrow in return.
Bring it
.

Adam stood calmly at my side, waiting. He didn’t waste time with unnecessary questions. I knew from experience he could hold his own in a fight, which meant I didn’t have to worry about saving both our asses on my own.

Something shifted. Nothing obvious. No overt signal was given. But one second the whole world seemed to hold its breath, and the next, the air exploded with gunfire. I shoved Adam to our right, and we slid down the aisle in a tangle of limbs.

Bullets ripped through the store, turning it into swiss cheese. Sodas exploded in the refrigerated cases, coating us with cold, sticky wetness. Pulverized chocolate, salty snacks, and tampons rained down to create a PMS-themed collage on the floor.

“You got any weapons?” I yelled over the noise.

“Magic.” I shot him a look. He smiled. “And a Glock.” He pulled a Glock 20 from his waistband and handed it over. Releasing the magazine, I was relieved to find it full. That gave me fifteen rounds. Fifteen nonlethal bullets, considering we were fighting vampires, but I’d still be able to inflict some pain.

Finally, the hailstorm of bullets stopped.

“Yoo-hoo! Sabina?” Mischa called.

“What?” I shouted, and glanced at Adam. “Get ready to create a diversion.”

“Just let me zap them out of here.” I shook my head firmly. This was vampire business. I’d be damned before I let a mancy save me from my own kind. Besides, if anyone was going back to L.A., it was to take a message to my grandmother. And it wouldn’t take three of them to deliver it. But Adam’s magic could come in handy in other ways. I pointed to the fluorescent lights overhead. He nodded coolly and rose into a crouch.

Mischa sighed loudly. “I don’t suppose you’d just surrender now and save us all some time, would you, Mutt?”

I gritted my teeth. Mischa never missed an opportunity to remind me and everyone in hearing distance of my mixed blood. “Riiight. Tell you what, if you’re in such a hurry, why not just put that gun to your temple and squeeze the trigger? It’ll save me the effort.”

“And muss up my hair?” Mischa drawled. “You’re just talking crazy now.”

“Enough of this shit,” Nick said, clearly unimpressed with our banter.

Boots crunched on broken glass, signaling the assassins were on the move. I nodded to Adam.

His lips moved with an incantation, and a zap of energy shot from his fingertips. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I peeked between cereal boxes. Two fluorescent lights exploded above Mischa and Nick, and the metal housings holding the bulbs broke loose and crashed on their heads. Mischa’s gun skittered away, and Nick got knocked to the floor. Fatty, surprisingly agile given his size, jumped aside and started making his way to the back of the store.

With the shelves as cover, I opened fire on Mischa, who’d taken refuge behind a display of travel mugs. Taking aim at the bank of coffee machines behind her, I shot the carafes. Judging from her screams, the coffee shower that splashed on the bitch was roughly the temperature of magma.

One second, Adam crouched next to me, and the next, he inhaled sharply and cursed. I ripped my gaze off Mischa in time to see him pull a throwing star out of his thigh. He tossed it to the ground with an irritated grimace. “Okay,” he said, his jaw tight. “Now I’m annoyed. Seriously—who uses a throwing star?”

I sensed movement behind me. Before Fatty could get his hamhock hands on me, I back-kicked him in the stomach. My boot heel sank into the fleshy layers like I’d stepped into a pool of Jell-O before ricocheting back. Fatty’s belly shook with laughter for a moment before cutting off suddenly. We all went still for a moment, and then everyone shifted into fast-forward.

BOOK: The Mage in Black
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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