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Authors: Madeline Pryce

Wicked Magic (7 page)

BOOK: Wicked Magic
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Chapter Seven


The doors opened with a pathetic ding and Sam pushed off the
elevator wall. She didn’t know why Trent insisted on the stairs. The shaft
worked. Most of the time. Naked and shivering in the cool air, she’d taken
longer to dress than she should have, spending her time staring at the ceiling.
She’d fucked up.

Head tilted to the ground, she made every effort she could
not to look around when she walked into the bar. Compared to the temperature in
the room below, it felt like a sauna up here. Heat pulsed with the music and
the fog of smoke. It was suffocating. Out of habit, she looked up, searched out
Trent’s table. She felt stupid for even thinking he might have stuck around.
Her eyes watered, blurring her vision. She wouldn’t cry, not here at least.

She set her sights on the bar and the man behind it, almost
right where she’d left him. For brothers, Jeremiah and Trent looked nothing
alike. ’Miah’s face was grim, his broad shoulders sagging in defeat. He fumbled
with the pull lever on the tap and cursed.

Beer tumbled over the rim of the glass, pouring over his
hand. The last time she’d done that was when Trent had strolled up to the bar
and ordered a whiskey, neat. When Jeremiah shook his hand, drops of moisture
rained from his fingers, splattering over the bar.

“Damn it,” he hissed. Starting over, he poured out the foam
and tried again. He wasn’t half bad, for a rookie.

“Need a hand?” she asked, sliding over the bar.

Jeremiah shook his head. His hair moved in front of his
eyes. When he pushed the strands back, a trail of moisture lined his forehead.

“This bartending thing, a lot harder than it looks.” He set
the finished pint on a coaster. “How in the hell do you remember what goes in
what? Brenda’s been asking for Blowjobs, Redhead Sluts…is she fucking with me?”

She leaned her hip against the counter and picked up her
necklace. Determined not to let her heartbreak show, she forced a smile on her
face. Normally, Jeremiah’s charm would have cheered her up. Not tonight.

“I’ve been doing it a long time, that’s how. And with
Brenda, you can’t be too sure. You should go, leave this to the professionals.”

“No, no. I got it.” He slapped her hand away when she
reached for the glass he’d picked up. “I’m not sure what happened between you
and Trent, but he almost took my head off. You should go talk to him before he
does something stupid. He’s probably at home, drinking himself into a coma.
Being a shifter, that takes quite a bit of booze.”

Her smile faltered. “I’m the last person he wants to see. I
really screwed everything up,” she said.

“You? I doubt it.” He grinned when he poured a semi-decent
pint on the first shot. A stream of ale drifted down the side of the cup and
pooled onto the counter.

His voice jarred her. “Nine out of ten times it’s Trent’s
fault. Don’t blame yourself.”

A slow, pulsing ache moved through her stomach. She sucked
in a breath, stuttered on it as her lungs froze. One second she was fine, the
next she couldn’t breathe. Gasping, she reached for her neck.

Jeremiah asked her something. She saw his lips move but
didn’t hear anything.

She gripped her throat. Her lips parted and she tried to
answer him. It hurt. Everything hurt. Heat flashed—her magic swelling to life
in a rush so powerful she staggered. Trent. Something wasn’t right.

Jeremiah caught her by the arm, brought her upright and
smoothed the hair out of her face.

“Trent. Trouble,” she croaked out, voice hoarse.

A line knit between his brows. “You’re scaring me. What’s
going on?”

A bolt of fear propelled her into action and she yanked her
arm free. She reached around the post Jeremiah made and wrapped her fingers
around the cool metal of a gun. Its weight dropped her hand against her leg.
Ignoring the look on Jeremiah’s face, she scaled the bar and navigated through
the throngs of tables. ’Miah’s footsteps echoed behind her and he was close
enough for his boots to nip at her heels.

She stormed through the door, her destination unclear.
Beneath her feet, a pile of clothes littered the ground. The shredded remains
of Trent’s jeans and shirt. Above, clouds twisted in the sky, moved in front of
the moon so the crowded parking lot was nothing but shadows. On a normal night,
she’d hear crickets, birds, maybe a brush of wind. Tonight, even the bugs were
afraid to let their presence be known.

Jeremiah stopped beside her and tensed. He pointed his noise
in the air, sniffed. His jaw twitched when it tightened.

“Trouble. I smell blood and wolf. I don’t think the pack
went far.” With a growl, he sprinted out in front of her and jumped into the

Mid-leap, his body morphed. Clothes ripped, falling to the
ground in a shredded puddle. Fur emerged through skin—bones popped. When it was
done, all four of his paws hit the dirt running. Even in their animal form, he
and Trent were opposites. Where Trent was completely black except for the
barely visible gray rosettes, Jeremiah was a beautiful tawny yellow. Orange and
black spots ran across his back and down stocky legs that were built of solid
muscle. The yellow shade of his fur faded around his neck, melting into white
along his belly.

As he ran, all four paws met in the front, scrambling
through the loose gravel, and into the surrounding forest. He disappeared into
the darkness. A pitiful cry pierced the air and tore her heart in half. She
took off in the direction Jeremiah had gone and tried to slow her racing pulse.
The forest closed in around her. Twigs and leaves crunched under her boots.
Branches whipped her cheeks and brought tears to her eyes. The sinking feeling
in her chest grew worse.

The trees opened onto a grisly scene. It felt like her heart
stopped. Trent. Three wolves tackled him, tossed him to the ground like a giant
ragdoll. He tried to lash out. They were quicker. Even from a distance, the
blood dripping from his fur was as unmistakable as the dead woman lying in the
dirt. Jeremiah rushed to Trent’s defense, a flash of yellow blurring her

Snarling wolves lunged for his throat and three animals
collided in midair. She gasped and tightened her fingers around the stock of
metal in her hand. As Trent tried to get up, a large brown and white wolf
circled him. It lunged, teeth fitting around his neck. They rolled through
leaves and dirt.

Tearing, ripping, the sound of growls…it all touched
something deep inside her. She absorbed the emotion in the air, and adrenaline
tightened her skin. Fear paralyzed her. Trent mewled in pain, scratched with
claws the size of her fingers, but the wolf didn’t back down. The instinct to
protect took over. He was hers, damn it. If anyone was going to kill him, she’d
be the one to do it. She cupped the base of the gun and lined up her shot. The
metal trigger cut against her finger. She pulled. The gun kicked back with a
bang as a scalding hot shell pinged back and struck her arm.

The wolf at Trent’s neck howled, released its hold and
jerked its head in her direction. It growled, blood dripping from its yellowed
teeth. Jeremiah was there, lunging with powerful jaws, picking off the beast
that had jumped on his brother’s back.

The same green eyes she’d noticed earlier that night locked
with hers. It was the biker who’d decided he wanted to make her a prize. The
poor woman whose life was no more had paid that price. Gray, shaggy fur ran
down the wolf’s chest until the shade became brown. Its lips lifted, exposing a
sharp set of teeth. The energy swirling in the night air tasted every bit as
black as it had earlier in the bar.

When she took a step back, the wolf took one closer. It
pawed at the earth and wrinkled its nose. Her stomach clenched with fear.
Wavering with her terror, her hand shook and she fired again. The wolf
staggered, shoulder pushing back when the bullet penetrated. It didn’t stop

Her heel caught on a branch. The gun fell from her hand and
clunked to the ground. Her ass hit the forest floor, a flash of pain radiating
up her spine. The wolf rushed at her. This was it. She’d never even told Trent
she loved him.

A guttural roar sounded. Trent pounced out of thin air, a
black mist rushing from the side, his stocky legs barely touching the ground.
It felt like everything was moving in slow motion. Head over tails, they rolled
to the ground. Powerful jaws opened, exposing intimidating sets of canine
teeth. Trent struck the wolf at the base of the skull and bit down. He crushed
through bone in one powerful motion.

Blood rushed in a gushing sound that forced her eyes closed.
Her stomach lurched, and she gripped at the soft soil under her hands. Silence.
One eye at a time, she opened them. Trent moved to her, dragging his hind leg,
his stride uneven. The deep-blue of his irises glowed in the night. His eyes
were the one recognizable trait he carried over from his human form. When he
looked at her as he was now, it was easy to picture him standing above her.

She didn’t know if she should run away or to him. His eyes
closed and all three hundred pounds of his feline teetered. Three feet
separated them. He didn’t make it the distance. When he dropped to the ground,
the forest floor trembled.

Blood ran from his neck, his legs and from the wounds that
split open the fur along his muscular back. She crawled to him on her hands and
knees, moist earth seeping through her pants. A hiccupping sob started in her
chest and bubbled out. Pain cut through her chest, numbed her fingers.

When she picked up his head and cradled it in her lap, it
was large, heavier than she would have expected. Using a light stroke, she
curved her fingers around his ears, down to the puncture wounds at his neck.

“Trent.” Her vision blurred and a hot trail of tears ran
down her face.

She bent her head and pressed her forehead against the space
between his eyes. She gripped him, hands clutching his hide. Hot, short pants
came from his mouth. He twitched but didn’t make a sound. She sobbed, her body
vibrating with gut-wrenching pain.

“I can’t lose you. Please, Trent, shift.” Her words turned
into a babbling, incoherent string of words. “Please, hang on. Come back to

A warm hand pressed against her shoulder. In human form,
Jeremiah leaned against her and buried his nose in her hair. Her eyes stung
with tears. She turned, cheek still against Trent’s head, and looked at the man
beside her. ’Miah was bleeding and naked, a wake of bloody claw marks curving
around his bicep. Under the blood, the marks had already started to knit
together in raised, pink lines.

“He can’t shift. He’s too weak, injured too badly. You have
to make him, like you did earlier. Use your magic,” Jeremiah told her.

She shook her head. She didn’t know how.

“He’ll die if he doesn’t shift back. One of the wolves got
away, we gotta go after him. Make him human, Sam, and he’ll heal this. If you
don’t, he’s not going…” His voice cracked.


“I…” she stuttered.

“Do it,” he screamed at her. Tears clouded his eyes and
strained his voice. He trembled against her and he looked so much younger than
twenty-one. “Sam, please. He’s all I have.”

She closed her eyes and searched with her heart, tried to find
the spark inside Trent that connected her with him. She clutched him tight and
forced her magic to the surface. Even though Trent was right in front of her,
she couldn’t feel him like she normally did. They’d done this only in human

Searching, digging through layers of emotions and pain, she
grasped onto the faint spark of life. He was there. Everything became chaotic.
The smells around her amplified, so strong she could taste the gunpowder on her
hands, taste the fear that radiated off Jeremiah. Death hovered around her. The
heat of the day had created a moist press of air that churned the clouds above
her. It was about to rain—the earthy taste of it lingered on her tongue.

A drop of moisture pinged off her arm. Another on her
shoulder. As it began to drizzle, the ground speckled under the drops. She
tried to focus, to channel her energy on Trent, on the slowing beat of his

“Shift. Human. Come back to me,” she whispered against him.

Magic hummed, chilled her skin. Nothing happened.

She shoved her magic inside him more forcibly, cried out and
collapsed against the warmth of Trent’s back.
Come back to me, Trent. I need
you. Jeremiah needs you. Please.

Under her touch, the fur melted. Trent jerked in her arms.
She lifted her hands up and marveled at the transformation. Skin pulled
taut—bones shifted. Something popped. When it was over, the slick, curling
locks of his hair were under the hands she’d lowered to touch him. Trent curled
his naked, shivering body into a ball until his knees touched his chest and his
head was in her lap. He gripped her thigh and hugged her closer to him.

Jeremiah choked on tears, smiled and rubbed a hand through
Trent’s hair. Trent lifted his head. His eyes fluttered open and his unfocused
gaze met hers. She smiled, sniffling, cupped his head and brought her forehead
down against his, as she’d done with his jaguar. Beside her, Jeremiah fussed
over his brother by hovering his hand over the healing wounds on his body. The
skin had knitted together but the damage underneath was still mending. He’d
walk away, be healed after another shift, but some of his marks wouldn’t fade.
She’d almost lost him. They’d been given another chance and she wasn’t going to
screw it up. She knew what she needed to do.

“You came back to me,” she whispered, wiping the moisture
from her cheeks.

“Like you gave me a choice,” he rasped.

Beaten, dirty and naked, he shot her the slow grin that made
the panic and fear fade away. Trent stared into her eyes and her heart skipped
a beat. Animal or man, the twinkle in his eyes was always the same.

BOOK: Wicked Magic
5.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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