Home > Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(11)

Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(11)
Author: K.F. Breene

“Being around people riles you up.”

“Yes, but staring people rile me up more. They aren’t staring at you.”

“I don’t look…eccentric.”

Reagan turned to me with a hairless frown before looking down at herself. “What? I’m business casual.”

I just shook my head. Clearly she didn’t see the difference between bounty hunter business casual and office business casual. But Darius hadn’t commented one way or another, so what did I know?

“Here we go,” Reagan said, and I followed her gaze.

Darius and Emery strolled through the foyer of the building like two GQ models heading for the runway. Darius moved like a lethal dancer, his over-the-top handsomeness and elegant grace drawing eyes from across the foyer. Those eyes then moved on to Emery, topping Darius’s height by two inches and swinging a broader set of shoulders. His gait was powerfully confident and his bearing screamed rough and tumble. Both were decked out in tailored suits that fit them like gloves, shiny watches, and hair styled and gelled just so. Moss and Marie strutted along behind, dressed to impress and owning their apparel.

“I look as good as they do, right?” I asked, straightening my jacket again and smoothing my pants.

“If you would stop slouching, fidgeting, and looking around like you are about to be attacked, yes, you would look as good as they do.”

“So…no, then.”

“No. Not on your life, no. You look like an out-of-place nerd in an uncomfortable suit.”

“At least I’m not wearing a blouse with leather pants and army boots,” I muttered, trying to straighten up.

“I don’t think it would matter if you did. You’d still blend into the surroundings.”

That was a good thing. That was my thing, actually, and it worked for me. I’d just stick with that.

“Ready, ladies?” Darius said, stopping near us with hard eyes. His gaze cut right through me, predatory and ruthless. He looked like he was going into a battle zone.

“How are you doing?” Emery asked me, his stance exuding confidence and power. Despite the presence of the elder vampire rocking his designer apparel, Emery owned the room. Or lobby, as it were.

“Good. Great.” I threw them a thumbs-up. “Feeling like I should flee the scene, but hanging in there.”

Emery chuckled and rubbed my back, apparently thinking that was a joke. “We have the best in the business on our side.” Emery flicked his gaze at Darius as we headed beyond the burly desk jockey without checking in. “He has done his homework.”

“I’ve been in a situation where he was supposed to have done his homework,” I said as we neared the elevators, “and that didn’t turn out so well.” I’d nearly died back in New Orleans after accidentally setting off Darius’s houseguest Ja.

Darius pushed the up button and stepped back, his hand slipping into his pants pocket. At the same time, Emery pulled his hand out of his pocket and checked his watch. They both shifted, their shoulders leaning in opposite directions but the movements still strangely synchronized, followed by Moss half turning and Marie basically striking a pose like a super model. It was like a dance of cool.

Reagan and I stood out. Badly.

“This time…” Emery scratched his cleanly shaven chin, his brow furrowing. No one helped him find the words.

The slim ray of hope I’d held that this team of powerhouses would prevent me (or Reagan) from creating “a situation” dimmed.

No one spoke in the elevator, and when we stepped out onto the shiny wooden floor, a strange feeling rolled over me. Like soft kisses slithering along my skin.

“Do you feel that?” I asked Emery.

“No. What is it?” he said, his eyes darting around and his face hard. He was ready for trouble.

I shook my head, unable to really describe it.

Darius led us to the right, gliding through the hall in a loose way that spoke of attack readiness. He wasn’t going into this meeting with closed eyes. That was good.

Interesting modern paintings hung on the cream walls, and white crown molding ran along the edges of the ceiling. Slowly, little by little, the feeling of my surroundings changed. The air condensed, thickening until I could almost hold it with two hands. A feeling slithered along my skin, curious yet watchful.

He’s guarding his territory.

Confused, I slowed, looking for a security device or someone watching in the corridor. Feeling the intent of magic was a gift I had, but I didn’t feel or see any actual magic, and I had never assigned a sex to intent before.

Perfectly synchronized in a way I didn’t understand, the others slowed with me, each glancing in a different direction, covering all bases.

A single thread of power curled within my awareness, twisting and turning, flirting with my senses and begging to be noticed. And still the presence in the air bore down on me.

The spiciness marked it as a vampire, and it had the dustiness of an elder, but it had another dimension to it. One thing was in our favor: the vampire wasn’t hostile, and he didn’t want us to turn around.

He just wanted us to know we were in his domain. His territory.

“A vampire owns this floor,” I said, my legs locked and not wanting to go any farther. “It’s not Ja, and I don’t feel any actual magic, but I would really rather not accidentally wake up an extreme elder again.” I looked hard at Darius, because his lack of preparedness had already put me in one uncomfortable situation. I’d hoped the partial destruction of his house would teach him his lesson, but who was to say?

Darius turned to me slowly. “An elder owns this building. What are you feeling?”

“Like…this place…belongs to someone…” I shook my head because I didn’t quite know how to explain it.

“Like someone peed on the walls to mark his territory?” Reagan nodded, staring down the hall. “Vampires like other creatures to know who owns what.” Reagan glanced back at me before walking forward. “I could only sense that after I bonded Darius. Is this the first time you’ve noticed it?”

I swallowed around a dry throat. “Yes. It’s incredibly…”

“Disconcerting. You’ll learn to deal with it.” Reagan glanced at Darius, paused for a moment, and lightly nodded. “Interesting, indeed.”

I didn’t get a chance to ask what she was talking about. Before I knew it, we were all walking again, Emery’s hand on my back keeping me from running off toward the double doors at the end of the hall.

Reagan tried one of the artful handles, which lacked a keyhole of any kind, only to find it locked. The walls beside the doors were smooth, no pad for a keycard.

“Knock, enter, or bust our way in?” Reagan asked Darius.

“This is a meeting of minds. We want to make a positive impression,” Darius said, knocking softly.


One of the doors opened in a swirl of air and fragrance, revealing a gorgeous woman in a leather duster, her cleavage popping out of her tight corset. She stood in incredible high-heeled boots in a balanced sort of way that didn’t hint at the discomfort she had to feel. The overall look was as dazzling as it was sexy, but it had to be ten times more painful. I wasn’t sure beauty was worth such a steep price, even for a vampire.

Reagan barked out a laugh, Darius turned to me slowly, and Emery bent to hide a chuckle. It was then I realized that, in my nervousness, I’d muttered my thoughts out loud.

“Sorry,” I said, my face heating. “I was thinking about something else.”

“Just stop while you’re…where you are, Turdswallop,” Emery murmured, a laugh riding his words.

“Off to a great start,” Reagan said with a giant smile.

“Mr. Durant, we’ve been expecting you,” the female vampire said in a lush, smooth voice so dense it practically worked at my pants buttons.

“Awkward,” I whispered, desperately trying not to do the heebie-jeebie dance.

“Yes, of course.” Darius stepped forward at an angle, cutting Reagan off from following. He bent his head toward Reagan.

She nodded, like he’d said something, and he disappeared through the doors. Moss and Marie followed him without a word, both on edge. Reagan didn’t take a step, and instead waited until they’d closed the doors behind them, locking us in the hall.

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