Home > Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(12)

Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(12)
Author: K.F. Breene

“Well…that was unexpected,” I said, staring at the doors.

“He thinks you need a moment to collect your thoughts. He doesn’t realize that this is you with collected thoughts.” Reagan leaned her back against the door and pulled her phone out of her fanny pack. She lit it up, then dropped it back in. “We’ll give him five minutes to get everyone comfortable before we head in. What do you guys think? Should we go in on offense, defense, or just stir the shit?”

“Some of the most powerful people in the magical world are in there, right?” I yanked at my suit jacket. She nodded. “Okay, so let’s go in normally. Just walk in.”

Reagan sighed. “Fine. But tell me this: how hard should I kick in the door?”

“Would you—” I ran my hand over my face. There was no talking sense to her. To my dismay, Emery was chuckling again. He clearly didn’t realize she was serious. That she wanted to rile everyone up so she could gauge their weaknesses. She was awesome at winning a fight, but subtlety was completely lost on her. Completely lost. “Go in meekly,” I said through clenched teeth. “Just go in meekly.”

“Ah.” She wiggled her finger at me, as though we were sharing an inside joke. “I’m hearing you.”

Oh no…

In one perfectly practiced, smooth movement, she turned, balanced, and kicked, all while I yelled, “Noooo!”

Both doors burst open, swinging hard before slamming against the walls. As Reagan strutted in, loudly saying, “Ah crap—really, Darius? Him?” Emery stepped over to me quickly, pushing me a little to the side before bending to whisper in my ear.

“I wasn’t supposed to say anything, but Darius went in first to set the stage. He wants us to each go in how we feel most comfortable. Okay? You’ll be great.”

“Wait, you mean there was an actual plan for once, and no one thought to—”

He was gone, strutting through the door after Reagan, holding his head high and his shoulders straight like he owned the whole room.

“—tell me,” I finished, suddenly standing on my own in a pressurized situation. More times than I could count, it was in this exact type of situation that things went painfully, horribly wrong for me.

Darius had clearly not learned his lesson.


My spine collapsed immediately and my confidence totally deflated. I hated being the center of attention and worried I’d accidentally do something crazy, like blast one of the shifters, or start a war with a vampire. I drifted to the doorframe, getting a quick look in before anyone noticed me.

A large conference room greeted me, with an oval table in the middle surrounded by plush chairs. Moss and Marie each stood in a corner, standing tall with their eyes directed straight ahead. In another corner, a block of a man took up residence, clearly a vampire on the same detail as Moss and Marie.

Darius sat on the side facing the door in the windowless room, his elbows on the table and his fingers steepled up near his face. Opposite him sat a burly guy with tree-trunk arms and dirty blond hair, his broad back to me. The seat to his right was open, but the one beyond it was filled with another stack of muscle with dark brown hair, wearing a suit that pulled at the seams, fighting to stay in one piece over his large expanse of shoulders. Shifters, both of them.

Reagan sauntered around the end of the table toward Darius, exchanging words with the muscular blond guy. Emery walked behind her, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. He pulled out the chair at the head of the table and sat down like the room should praise him for showing up.

It was clear he could really strap on the ego when he thought it fitting.

A slight shifting drew my notice to the left, and a little lean-in revealed two more people, a woman and man, each with a certain pose and balanced stance that yelled fighter. Another couple shifters. The woman in the corset was out of sight, which meant others might be, too.

Knowing I couldn’t, on my best day, strut in like I owned the place, I figured I’d take Darius at his word. Hoping to stay hidden, I skulked into the room, veering right, and slipped toward the corner, where I was happy to notice a big, bushy office plant. It would do swimmingly to hide me from these extremely intense individuals who really didn’t seem like they should be cooped up together in a confined space.

Having achieved my partial hiding spot, I put my back to the wall and finally took a glimpse at the other end of the table. I sucked in a quiet breath, which I then held.

The most unbelievably gorgeous man I had seen in my entire life, on the big screen or otherwise, sat in the high-backed chair at the foot of the table, his posture perfect and his manicured hands on the table. With cheekbones and straight nose seemingly etched out of marble, he looked like one of those pictures in a history book depicting nobles. Lean body exuding power, he was refined grace and infallible charisma wrapped up in a perfect package.

Like…almost too perfect. He didn’t even look real, he was so incredibly attractive.

I wiped drool from my chin with the back of my hand. He was so hot he literally made me drool. That was a first.

“Now, since we are all here…” the stupidly attractive man said, his voice so perfectly pitched and smooth that I caught myself leaning forward a little bit, anxious to get it to my ears just a little more quickly.

Son of a marmalade maker, Penny, get a hold of yourself!

“Sabrine, please, if you would?” the man said, and I forced myself to lean back again.

Ms. Corset—Sabrine—strutted toward the doors, her hips bobbing and swaying so much that I almost got queasy watching them. She passed the shifters a little too closely, skimming their comfort bubbles and smirking when each of them stiffened, before fitting the doors into the frame as best she could. She didn’t so much as glance my way.

Vampires and shifters didn’t like each other, I remembered. No, that wasn’t right. They hated each other. And hating, in the magical world, often resulted in death.

And here we all were, in the same room. Spacious or not, the room was still much too small.

“I am overjoyed I could host such a group of people. What luck that this location was agreeable to you,” Unnaturally Handsome said with a smile that tightened my body in worrying ways: arousal and fear and excitement.

The brown-haired shifter at the table moved in his seat, clearly not as overjoyed. He leaned forward, resting his large arms on the table. His biceps strained his suit jacket to the point of absurdity.

“You didn’t introduce anyone around. Is that the other mage?” He pointed at Reagan.

“Nope,” she said, leaning back in her seat. The low light glinted off her bald head. “I was only invited because I’m banging this guy.” She hooked a thumb Darius’s way. Cleary this group didn’t know what she really was.

“She was the first to thwart the Mages’ Guild in Seattle,” the blond-haired shifter said, his voice deep and rough and his posture tense and ready.

“But she’s not a mage?” Bursting Jacket asked.

“Not a mage, no. But rest assured, gentlemen,” Darius said. His voice, once smooth as silk, now sounded a bit gravelly. Unnaturally Handsome was doing a number on me. “She will be an infallible asset. Now, if we could move on…”

“Wait.” Bursting Jacket leaned forward then back, practically buzzing with pent-up energy. He glanced at the blond shifter. “Am I remembering this wrong? Weren’t there two mages that battled the Guild in Seattle? I was told they’d both be here.”

“And so they are,” Unnaturally Handsome said.

The blond shifter clasped his hands, and I could tell it was in confusion. It occurred to me that neither of them had noticed me enter. They didn’t know I was in the room.

Reagan clucked her tongue and shook her head, the light moving around her shiny skin scalp like a disco ball. “Roger, I’m surprised at you. I mean, your nitwit friend I get—lots of brawn, no brain—but you? That’s a big miss…”

Ah, so that was Roger. I sank a little closer to the bush, because Reagan’s joy of riling up shifters was not in the best interest of this overall meeting, and also because the shifters were on my side of the table.

As expected, Bursting Jacket puffed up, putting that jacket under even more strain. Shifter magic exploded through the room, jagged and hot, smacking into me and putting my energy on boil.

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