Home > Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(16)

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic #3)(16)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Maven sounded just the slightest bit offended. “Of course I do. We all do. Magic is dying, which could result in all of our species dying out. A witchling who grows up to have her own babies and boost the ley lines will help all of us.”

My forehead was still plastered to the table. Great, now I felt like a broodmare. A broodmare who was supposed to be sterile, goddammit.

“This can’t be happening,” I said into the tabletop. Molly patted my back again.

I sat up and looked at Maven. “What do I do?” I whispered.

I’m not sure why I was asking her. I barely knew her, and I had no reason to think she cared about my best interests, or the baby’s. But she had given me the information freely, without demanding a favor in return. And she seemed to actually care about the fate of the whole Old World, not just herself or her little domain.

Maven gave me a faint smile. “At the end of the day, a pregnant null has mostly the same options as any other pregnant woman. You can keep the baby, or you can abort it.”

“Adoption?” Molly asked.

Maven pursed her lips. “That, I would not advise. The witchling will be nearly impossible for anyone else to care for. Or protect.”

“I don’t protect things,” I squeaked. “I mostly break them.”

Molly squeezed my hand. She looked at Maven. “Are you going to tell anyone?” she said in a low voice. “Dashiell?”

Maven made a show of furrowing her brow. “Tell anyone what? I thought we were speaking hypothetically.”

Molly grinned. “I like the superpowerful vampire lady,” she told me.

“Thank you,” I managed to say to Maven. “I owe you one.”

Maven shook her head. “No, you don’t. If you were to get pregnant—someday—we would all benefit.”

At that moment, the burner phone buzzed in my pocket, making me jump. I dug it out and looked at the screen, which displayed my own cell phone number, the one for the Batphone. At least Jesse was okay.

I was about to ignore it, but it occurred to me that he wouldn’t be calling from this number if it wasn’t urgent. I answered the phone. “Hey. This isn’t a great time—”

“Scarlett? Oh, thank God.” It wasn’t Jesse’s voice. It was Kirsten, and she sounded panicked. “I don’t know where you are, but you need to get home, right now.”

Fear churned the few contents of my stomach. “What happened? Where’s Jesse?”

“I had a witch problem, and Dashiell said Jesse was covering for you,” she said in a rush. “He wasn’t answering the emergency line or his personal cell, and I got worried, so I had Abby track your phone and then I saw the missed call—”

“Kirsten, slow down! Where’s Jesse?”

“He’s right here,” she said, her voice almost a sob. “But he’s been attacked. I think he’s dying.”

Chapter 14

I stood up, ignoring the curious looks from Molly and Lex. “What do you mean, he’s dying?” I demanded, turning my back to the others. “What kind of attack?”

“Magical,” Kirsten said. “Someone hexed him and dumped him in the Ballona Wetlands reserve. Teddy and I found him.”

Teddy was Theodore Hayne, Kirsten’s husband. But a magical attack would be her department. “Can’t you undo it?”

“I’ve been trying!” she said, nearly wailing. “I’ve never seen anything like this—it’s like he’s in a coma, but he’s burning up. His temp is a hundred and eight. If I had a couple of days, I could reverse engineer it, but he’s losing fluids too quickly. Where are you?”

“A hundred and eight?” I repeated. I had turned around and twirled a finger at Molly, our signal that we needed to leave. She stood and started gathering our things. “Is that even possible?”

“Apparently it is. We took him back to your place—it was the closest—and the carpet around him is soaked with sweat, and I can’t figure out why.” There were tears in her voice. The witch leader of LA was usually good in a crisis, but I’d seen her break down when people she cared about were in mortal danger. Jesse was her friend, too. And the fact that her magic couldn’t fix him had to be terrifying. It was certainly terrifying me.

I could hear Hayne’s low, soothing voice murmuring to her in the background. She took a deep breath. “I don’t think I can solve this before he dies from it, Scarlett. He needs you to break the hex.”

Shit, shit, shit. “How long does he have?” I demanded.

“I’m not a doctor, Scarlett. Can’t you just get here?”

But I wouldn’t be deterred. “Best guess?”

She hesitated again. “Hours. Two, maybe three.”

Jesus. No wonder she was panicking. I wanted to burst into tears, but I needed to focus. I couldn’t help Jesse if I was falling apart. “Call Matthias, get him there,” I urged. Matthias was the witch-born human doctor who helped us with medical stuff when we couldn’t use the human health-care system. “I’ll pay his bill myself.”

“I already called. He’s on his way,” she said more clearly. “When can you and Shadow get here?”

“Shadow,” I echoed. “Jesse was taking care of Shadow.”

A pause, and then Kirsten said, “She’s not here.”

I swallowed hard. I needed to be there, but even if Molly drove like a bat out of hell, we’d never make it back in less than eight hours. “Hang on.” I spun around and looked at Maven. “Do you have a plane?” I demanded. Dashiell had a plane.

Maven blinked. “Excuse me?”

Lex shot me a be careful look. My words had been too flippant for someone so powerful, but I didn’t care. “A private aircraft. Do you have one, or have access to one?”

“One of my Denver vampires owns a Gulfstream,” Maven allowed.

“Can I borrow it?”

Unhurried, Maven leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms over her chest. “Why?”

I forced myself to take a breath before saying, “Someone under my protection has been hexed. He’ll die if I don’t get back in time to break the spell. Please.”

Maven just studied me. In that moment, I realized I would do anything to save Jesse. “I’ll owe you a favor,” I said.

She nodded. “All right.”

Lifting the phone, I said to Kirsten, “I’m on my way. Meanwhile . . .” I hesitated, but made myself say the words. “Call Will and see if he’ll come be on standby.”

There was a pause, then Kirsten whispered, “Are you serious?”

“Yeah.” There was no guarantee that Jesse would actually change from a werewolf bite—as Maven had explained, magic was fading and the odds were against him. And being a werewolf was considered a last resort among last resorts. Maybe I was being selfish to even consider it, but I wouldn’t let Jesse die if I could find any way around it. “Did you tell Dashiell?” I said to Kirsten.

“No, he’s my next call.”

I wanted to ask her to keep it from Dashiell, but this was way too big. Jesse being hexed was a magical crisis on its own, but if Shadow was loose in the city . . . “Let me do it,” I said, my stomach turning into a rock. “Please. I’ll call him in ten minutes, from the car.”

Kirsten wasn’t happy about it, but she agreed. I hung up the phone and turned to face the others. At some point, Quinn had come running into the room. He was still breathing hard. I gave him a blank look, then got it: I’d extended my radius to the front of the building, alarming him. Oops.

I looked at Maven in a daze. She was so powerful. Did I need her to dismiss me? Should I curtsy or something?

To her credit, she waved us off. “No need.”

I ran out of the coffee shop at a dead run, with Molly and Lex at my heels.

There are serious advantages to knowing an ex-soldier with Old World connections. Before we even made it to the highway, Lex had made the necessary calls and arranged everything. She would drive us to the airport, introduce us to the pilot, and take care of Eleanor until we could send someone to drive the car back to Los Angeles.

   
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