Read twice cursed mage 05 - claimed Online

Authors: j a cipriano

Tags: #Fantasy

twice cursed mage 05 - claimed (4 page)

BOOK: twice cursed mage 05 - claimed
8.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“They moved in fast. Like they’d thought about it for a while.” Maya shrugged at me. “I think they were going to take this city whether it was from you, Van, or Sal. That’s what they do. They come in like Miley Cyrus and take a wrecking ball to the establishment.” She turned, took a couple steps so her red plaid vinyl skirt swished around her hips, and plunked the tin back into her purse. “Either way, it’s bad for business.”

“And you expect me to fight off an army by myself?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. “What about Danton and the werewolves?”

“Ramon said he told you Ricky is trapped in a gauntlet.” She shook her head. “Danton took off right before the attack. One moment he was standing there being a cheeky motherfucker, the next he cocks his head to the sky, and I just know Gabriel is whispering sweet nothings in his ear. A horrible look crossed his face, and he fucking ninja vanished.” She shook her head. “He actually said ‘ninja vanish’ and threw down a smoke bomb.”

“He just left?” I asked, unable to believe the guy would leave without his wife and kid. “I know he’s a huge D-bag, but he seemed stand up in his own sort of way.”

“He’s not, Mac. Everyone who gets involved with him gets royally fucked over,” Maya replied, letting out a slow breath. “However, I think he called in a favor because not only are Sera and John gone, but…” she paused and looked down at her feet in a way that made me think she didn’t want to say anything. Instead, she held a postcard out to me. “Here.”

“Um, okay,” I replied, taking the postcard. It was from Anchorage, Alaska. I flipped it over and read the note scribbled on it.

Hey, Mac, so long and thanks for all the fish. By the by, when you get it all sorted out with your ex, give me a ring. I’ll keep your sister and her brat safe until then. Hugs and Kisses! Danton.

I blinked and read the note several times, and even after that I still couldn’t believe it.

“He took my family?” I asked, confusion filling my voice. Sure, it seemed like he’d done it to keep them out of harm’s way, which was good, but at the same time, I’d fought through so much to get them back, and now I still couldn’t see them? It was capital-L-Lame. It was probably better this way, but I was going to deck him, anyway. Besides, he was a demon hunter. Shouldn’t he and his angels have stepped in?

“Yeah…” Maya said, and I realized she was standing out of arm’s reach almost like she was afraid I’d have lashed out at her. I wouldn’t have. I wasn’t really a shoot the messenger type when the messenger was someone I sort of liked.

“Can he keep them safe?” I asked, watching her face for movement.

“Huh?” Maya replied, her cheeks flushing slightly. “You aren’t mad?”

“I’m mad at the situation, not at him.” I let out a slow breath. “Danton’s an odd duck to be sure, but I believe he can keep them safe. Truth be told, I was worried Jenna might have gone after them. It’s a relief to know that’s not the case.” I shrugged. “It will help me focus on the task at hand, knowing they are safe.”

“That’s good to hear, Mac,” Ramon said from a few feet away. I hadn’t even known he was there. It was a little creepy because I was usually pretty good at noticing when people snuck up on me.

I turned to look at him, and as I did, my mouth fell open in shock. His face looked like it’d been melted into a hard mass of scar tissue so he sort of resembled the toxic avenger. The tank top and grimy pink tutu didn’t help matters either.

“Does my appearance displease you?” he asked, raising one malformed eyebrow before gesturing at himself with his mop.

“We were just leaving,” Maya said before I could even shut my mouth. She reached out, grabbing my hand and pulling me toward another tunnel entrance. “Thank you for all your help, Ramon.”

“Don’t mention it, Maya,” Ramon replied as we disappeared into a darkened alcove. “Now, we’re even.”

“Say thank you,” Maya hissed, and one glance at her angry face made me comply.

“Thanks,” I called back over my shoulder, and as I did, the shadows around us seemed to recede a touch. I hadn’t even noticed how dark they’d seemed until they’d faded away into nothingness.

“I swear, if you make a single Toxic Avenger joke, I’m going to leave you here to try to escape on your own,” she said, switching on a flashlight and illuminating a path through the slime in front of us. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to get Ramon to do anything?” She shivered like whatever she’d done had given her nightmares.

“Why are you helping me, really, Maya?” I asked, watching her traipse through the muck and mire in her hot pink rain boots. Something about the way she’d shown up, combined with her comments, seemed off, especially for her.

“I told you,” she said, glancing at me over my shoulder. “I’ve got some wise guys trying to move in on my turf.” I’ll be honest, I was surprised at how much she sounded like James Gandolfini.

“Yeah, I heard your excuse.” I waved my hand dismissively. “I’m just trying to figure out if you’re leading me into a trap. Admittedly, I don’t think it’s likely because you healed me, but maybe it’s just a really good trick.”

She stopped and took a long, slow breath. “I’m hoping you can kill the council of seven.” Her words were so quiet, I almost didn’t hear them. “If you can’t, I don’t think anyone can, and they really need to die.”

“Why?” I asked, and as I did, she leaned against one wall and shook her head angrily.

“Why do you care, Mac?” She slashed across my body with the flashlight. “Just do your ‘kill the bad guys’ thing. ‘Kay?”

“No.” I crossed my arms over my chest. Something about this was off, way off. Maya didn’t seem like the type to care about anything beyond her next payday, but looking at her told me one thing. She definitely wanted these council fuckers dead. “Look, I know how people like you operate, but you’re not operating in a way I’d expect.” I gestured around the sewer. “You mean to tell me you’d step foot in this godforsaken place and deal with Toxie? No, it stinks. I might buy you’d help me because Ricky was paying you, but you’d have just said that if it was true, and anyway, she’s trapped in some sort of fight club from Hell. She’d be paying you to rescue her, if anything.” I leveled my gaze on her. “There’s another reason.”

“It’s personal, but trust me when I say I’m on your side, Mac.” She took a deep breath and stepped so close to me her breasts pressed against my ribs. “Just let this drop. If you do, I’ll give you a nice shiny gun, okay?”

I let out a slow breath. I still didn’t trust this. “Ricky didn’t send Ramon to help me, huh? You just told him to say that didn’t you. You’ve set the whole thing up.”

Maya punched me hard in the arm. “Fuck you, Mac.” Her voice broke partway through. “You’re not supposed to be smart. You’re just supposed to go in like The Rock and lay the smackdown on some candy ass jabronis.”

“I’m more of a Stone Cold Steve Austin guy myself,” I said, watching her wipe her eyes with the back of her hand. I decided not to push the issue. She seemed genuine in wanting to help me, and for the moment that was fine. Hell, at least now I was certain she was on my side, and as I’d seen thus far, while she might be a big-breasted, tiny-waisted Asian girl, she was a hell of an ally. She had so many magical tricks up her sleeve, it almost made me think of her like a supernatural Inspector Gadget. “So, where’s Ricky?”

“She’s trapped in the gauntlet. She doesn’t know you’re alive. In fact, I think she thinks you’re dead.” Maya looked at me, and as she did, she reached up behind her back and pulled something from beneath her Beetlejuice T-shirt. “Why don’t you go rescue her?” She shoved a MAC-10 into my hands. “That’s loaded with silver, by the way.”

“And why do I need silver bullets?” I asked, taking the gun from her and hefting it. I wasn’t super fond of MAC-10s, especially when they didn’t have a stock. They were so inaccurate, the only way you could hit someone was if you were fighting redshirts on Star Trek.

“Because Ricky is being held by the Beast Lord.” She sighed through her teeth. “He’s a werewolf who has thrown his lot in with Asmodai. He’s the enforcer. What he does is come in and become the Alpha of the pack, then all the weres in the city have to follow his lead. Once that happens, it’s pretty much curtains.” She drew her thumb across her throat. “He’s got to go, Mac.”

“Like Pierce, except he roams?” I asked, remembering the douchebag alpha werewolf who had tried to overpower Ricky and take her mind, body, and soul with his overwhelming alphaness. If this guy was anything like Pierce, I needed to put him six feet under on principle.

Chapter 6

I wasn’t sure how long we walked through the twisting sewer tunnels, but it was long enough for me to wish I had some shoes. True, they’d be covered in gunk, but at the same time, I’d long since given up trying to figure out what was squelching between my toes or ever being clean for a whole day.

“I still don’t understand why you didn’t bring me some clothing,” I growled at the back of Maya’s head. She ignored me, but that was probably because she was listening to music on her phone so loud, I could actually hear Justin Timberlake telling me to cry myself a river.

I’d been pretty annoyed when she’d donned the earbuds, but to be fair, she had warned me to stop asking questions about the council of seven.

“We’re here,” she said, stopping abruptly beneath a manhole cover that looked identical to the several hundred we’d passed already. How she knew this was the right one was beyond me, but then again, I was so lost, I was pretty sure we’d been walking in circles for the last hour.

“Where’s here?” I asked as she pulled the white earbuds from her ear and made a meticulous show of turning off the phone and shoving it in her purse.

“See for yourself. You go first. I don’t want you looking up my dress.” I hadn’t even considered that, but as I glanced at her standing there in a short vinyl skirt, I decided I’d go first, if only so she wouldn’t have to flash me her panties. The things I do for my… what’s the word for people who aren’t your friends and have tried to kill you, but aren’t actively doing it at the time?

“You know what works well for killing people? Pants,” I said, moving past her toward the ladder. Part of me was pleased because while I’d climb the ladder with it being relatively clean, my feet were going to cover it with slime she’d have to grab with her manicured hands. It was a small victory to be fair, but a victory was still a victory.

“Maybe for you, but I find I can get a lot closer to the average guy dressed like this.” She shrugged as I started climbing. I had to admit, she had a point. It wouldn’t be hard for her to get close to most men revealing as much skin as she did. “Besides, there’s nothing quite like grabbing a boy’s waist and pulling him in close before stabbing him in the chest.” A small giggle rippled from her throat. “You know, if you’re into that sort of thing.”

“The Lannisters send their regards,” I said, reaching up and pressing on the underside of the lid with my left hand. I’d just meant to test its weight, but the manhole cover moved easily. It should have been way heavier, but it felt like Styrofoam, and I was able to push it out of the way with ease.

Fluorescent light spilled into the sewer from the room overhead. It was pretty bare, having a concrete floor painted with that same industrial paint like in Jack’s bar. There was a pile of cardboard boxes off to one side, but the room was otherwise empty which seemed odd, and not just because the sewer led into a weird room. No, it was weird because it smelled like soot and fresh paint, almost as though it’d been recently renovated following a fire.

I pulled myself inside, and as I did, I realized Maya was right behind me. Her head poked up a moment later, and she reached out with one latex-gloved hand. I took her hand and pulled her out, dismayed because my hand was covered in gunk.

“You didn’t know I had gloves, huh?” Maya asked, pulling the gloves off and tossing them into the sewer. “You’ll find I always use protection.”

She squatted down and moved the lid back into place. From here, the lid almost looked real, which I suspected was the point. Still, who would have sewer access in their backroom?

“Where are we?” I asked, gesturing toward the obnoxiously green man door to my left. It was the only other way in and out of the room.

“At a friend’s place,” Maya said, moving past me toward the door. She grabbed the handle, twisted, and peered through the crack.

“A friend with a sewer access?” I asked, about to launch into a tirade on the subject when Maya gasped.

“Fuck!” Maya pulled the door back shut and slumped to her knees in defeat. “They’re here, already. That’s not good.”

“What’s going on?” I asked, moving up to the door so I could look for myself. Before I could, she grabbed my hand, stopping me.

“There’s a council member out there.” She shook her head. “We have to get out of here.” She began to move back toward the sewer, but if it was a choice between killing someone and going in the sewer, well, I’m just not a very nice person.

“Or I could do my thing,” I said, reaching back and pulling the MAC-10 free from the waistband of my scrubs. I wasn’t sure what the average council member offered in the way of personal fortitude, but I was somehow sure a MAC-10 would put one down. If it didn’t, there was the old standby. Kill it with Hellfire.

“Mac, stop,” she said as I pushed her aside and grabbed the handle with one hand while bracing the MAC against my chest to give me some semblance of aim with the submachinegun. It probably wouldn’t help, but it was better than nothing.

“Maya, where in there is the person? Left? Right?” I asked, turning the knob, but not opening the door yet. “And are there any people in there?”

“Just my friend, but don’t worry about him. The only way you’d shoot him is if he wanted you to shoot him.” Maya let out a slow breath. “It’s the woman at the bar. Don’t miss or we’re fucked, and not in a good way but more in the bent over a table without lube sort of way.”

“Okay,” I said, realizing I was about to gun down someone I’d never met on Maya’s word alone, but then again, I’d been a hired gun in my past life. This seemed like a step up from that, and besides, Maya said the person was a bad guy, and if I wasn’t living in a world where I could trust Maya, it was a world I wasn’t going to be living in long.

BOOK: twice cursed mage 05 - claimed
8.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

The Carpenter & the Queen by Michelle Lashier
Lady Parts by Andrea Martin
Who Left that Body in the Rain? by Sprinkle, Patricia
Somebody Else's Kids by Torey Hayden
Born This Way by Paul Vitagliano
The Awakening by Kat Quickly
The Third Bear by Jeff Vandermeer
Stepbrother Studs Ryan by Selena Kitt
Callie's Heart by Cia Leah