Home > Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(16)

Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(16)
Author: K.F. Breene

“Run, you blind idiot!” I yelled at him, waving my arm in an arc before turning myself. “They’ll only hurl more of them at us.” I put on a burst of speed, the same kind that had won me a great many track events.

I was back at my car in a flash. Wet and soggy, I yanked open the door and jumped inside. My seat squelched as I dug through my equally soaked canvas bag for the keys.

Another blast of color tore through the fading light, aimed for the stranger.

“What a blockhead,” I muttered, my stomach doing somersaults. They’d lob more at me soon, I had no doubt. I needed to get out of there.

“Should I save him?” I asked the quiet car as I freed my keys from my bag and jammed one into the ignition.

Another jet of magic pierced the sky, followed by two more in quick succession, all coming from the stranger’s side. Maybe he could take care of himself. I cranked the ignition as the street fell silent except for the pounding rain. My breath was loud and harried in the purring car. My heart thumped in my ears.

The stranger walked out into the street, his gait powerful and purposeful. He stopped in the very center like it was high noon, then turned toward me slowly, and I read suspicion and vengeance in every line of his tall frame. He looked like he wanted a pistol showdown with me.

“Nope!” I slammed my foot on the gas, so far removed from logical thought that my brain could’ve flopped out onto the center console and I wouldn’t have noticed. The engine revved and the car blasted forward, straight for him.

“I should’ve gone the other way,” I yelled at myself. But I wasn’t driving just then. It was that she-devil who took over covens and spoke zombies to life. The adrenaline junky who loved to push the limits of magic.

Except this wasn’t magic. It was a very heavy block of metal, and I was hurtling it at a stranger at hair-raising speeds.

“Get out of the way,” I yelled. He’d only take me on if he meant me harm, and that would be strange, since he’d literally just saved my life with the whole white shield thing. But maybe he’d decided he didn’t want a witness…

Well, if so, I wouldn’t make it easy for him—I’d leave a tire tread up the center of his body and over his face. “Move if you know what’s good for you.”

He pulled his hands up in front of him. Black fog materialized until it crystalized into a shiny orb, so black it looked like a tear in the universe. Soon it would disappear into the failing light of day.

If I didn’t run over him first.

“Last chance,” I yelled, even though he couldn’t hear me. Not that it mattered. A car headed toward you at high speed, driven by a dishonest fortune-teller, was a pretty good indicator of what was about to come.

My fingers tightened on the steering wheel.

Still he stood.

My knuckles turned white.

He stayed motionless.

My car barreled down on him, closing the distance.

He waited with his chin raised and that ball hovering between his large hands.

I lost the battle of chicken.

I wrenched the wheel. The tires squealed and the car careened, headed now for the park. I jolted in the seat as I popped the curb. Three bodies lay sprawled out on the grass, their limbs splayed at unnatural angles.

I yanked the wheel the other way, my lips forming a curse word. The car responded eagerly, but not in time.

Bump. Bump.

“Oh heavens no,” I muttered. Bile rose in my throat.

Although running over a few dead guys wasn’t nearly as bad as turning women into zombies. It was all about perspective.

I flopped in the seat as the car rolled off the curb and back into the street. Another wrench of the steering wheel and I was swerving down the middle of the road, headed toward home.

I glanced in the rearview mirror.

The stranger still stood in the middle of the street. Facing me. Watching me go.

And he knew where I worked.

Chapter Ten

Emery watched the car speed away, mouth gaping.

The girl from the medieval village. Penny Bristol. Even from a distance and in the failing, rain-streaked day, he’d recognized her immediately. He would recognize her anywhere. That beautiful face was burned into his brain, with the luminous blue eyes and pixie-like features.

So many questions were running through his mind that all he could do was stand there and stare at the shrinking red taillights.

What had she been doing here?

How had she snuck up on him without tipping off him or the guild mages?

How in hell had she kept what she truly was a secret from him earlier that day?

He’d sat in her rickety chair, leaned against her shaky table, and chatted with her about a fake crystal ball, barely used tarot cards, and tiny power stones. He’d told her about using her magic, and about summoning the will to control it, as if she were a rudimentary witch with a thimbleful of power. All the while, she’d had that might trapped within her skin.

Turned out he’d given her terrible advice. Dangerous advice. If that kind of magic turned unruly, or if she started using it without knowing what she was doing, it would take more than will and hope to control the outcome.

He pulled his palms apart, letting the black ball of survival magic dissipate. Rain pelted down around him, sliding off the weather-protectant bubble surrounding his body. Power and energy rolled through the sky.

He turned and stared at the location where she’d stood, remembering the flare of survival magic that had risen around her. The purest of white, directly from the root of her soul. Just like his brother’s.

But his brother hadn’t been able to control his survival magic like that. Penny’s magic had tracked the offending spell back to the caster and taken him down. That had been sensational.

The tread of boots shook him out of his thoughts. Solas stopped beside him, her gaze trained in the same direction as his.

“Who was that?” she asked, kept dry in her own rain-free bubble.

He shook his head, thinking back to that flimsy little booth in the medieval village. “The short answer is that I have no idea. I’d thought she was no one.”

“She is certainly more than no one. I felt the sting of her power in my bones. Like I do with you. And she was at a distance.”

“I know.” He told Solas about meeting Penny earlier in the day, when he’d been killing time. “She acted embarrassed about her tiny power stones.”

“Because they were so small?”

“No.” He shifted, scratching his head. “Because she knew they had personalities, of a sort. She didn’t seem like she knew anything about her craft. Yet…”

“She tried to warn you about the guild’s spell,” Solas said, shifting her stance. “She charged forward, into view, to warn you.”

“Maybe she’s working with the guild and knew what they planned.”

“I highly doubt she’s working with them. Not happily, anyway. She killed one of them, then ran him over with her car out of spite. That is a jilted woman if ever there was one.”

“Then how did she know a spell was coming? I hadn’t even known exactly what and when—only that they were preparing it.”

Solas’s brow furrowed. “What do you mean? You can’t sense spells and hexes?”

“No. I can see their magical makeup when the weave is formed. Then I can figure out how to counteract it. She knew before it was cast.”

“Directly before. There is no way she could’ve timed that even if she’d known what they planned. She must have sensed it.”

“That is not possible.”

“Isn’t it? This may come as a shock to you, Emery, but just because you can’t do something, doesn’t mean it cannot be done.”

A smile wrestled with Emery’s lips. He missed having someone around to banter with. To work out problems with. It reminded him of just how alone he’d been these last few years. “If you’re right, that would be an extraordinary gift. Very helpful.”

“Another mage with power like yours would be a helpful ally. For either side.”

Emery dragged his fingers through his hair. Solas was right. With power that mighty, Penny wouldn’t get the chance to choose her fate. Someone of that caliber, once discovered, would be recruited mercilessly by the guild—hunted until they came to their senses and joined, or killed if they didn’t.

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