Home > Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(13)

Natural Dual-Mage (Magical Mayhem #3)(13)
Author: K.F. Breene

Attack. Kill.

A weave sprang through my fingers, unbidden, ready to slice Bursting Jacket in two if he so much as flinched in Reagan’s direction. I clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut, focusing on keeping calm. In this room of power players, I was not needed for defense. I needed to mind my own business so Darius could talk everyone around.

“Oops. Now look what you’ve done,” I heard—Reagan, as calm as a spring day. “You went and got the other mage all riled up. That’s okay; I like your beta better anyway. It would probably do everyone a favor if she took over.”

That intensely powerful shifter magic continued to pump into the room, burning my eyes and making me grind my teeth.

Shred. Rip.

I felt the energy building, the shifter close to changing shape. I wondered if it would have a spark like that goblin, and if it did, if I could just reach in…and quell it. Stop the change.

“Calm yourself,” came Emery’s voice, a whip crack of command. Rough and masculine, it flowed over my skin like a caress, so much better than Unnaturally Handsome’s voice. “Get it under control, or things are going to get violent.”

Another wave of shifter magic vibrated toward me, more potent than the first, whispering of trees, cold mornings, and the thrill of the hunt. It must’ve been Roger’s magic, and I savored the natural feel of it. How it sang through my bones and seamlessly blended into my surroundings.

The power soaked into my body, and my already raging energy flared. Elements flowed through my fingers again without my consent, weaves half realized before I could force them to dissipate.

I shouldn’t have come. This was a huge mistake.

“Darius, calm it down, now,” Emery said.

A warning sounded somewhere in the back of my head. The train was a little too wobbly on the tracks. And while this might’ve happened a lot when I was first learning to use my magic, I knew better now. And, on the flip side, I also knew a lot more deadly spells.

“Gentlemen,” Darius said, an edge to his voice, “may I present Penelope Bristol?”

Fabric groaned, and I wondered if Bursting Jacket would tear out his seams when he looked around.

“You see,” Unnaturally Handsome said, “vampires have a tendency to keep track of the most dangerous person in the room, even when he or she is disguised in such a perplexing way.”

Like the tide going out, the magic receded slowly, leaving me shaky and trembling in its wake. I peeled an eye open in time to see Bursting Jacket smirking at me through a big, square face and small, beady brown eyes. He turned back around and his magic diminished to the point of a whiff. The other shifter’s magic followed suit. I sighed in gratitude.

“Most dangerous person in the room?” He chuckled. “She looks terrified. She’s not even trained, right?”

“Precisely,” Unnaturally Handsome said, his finger firmly on the pulse of the situation.

Bursting Jacket shook his head, still chuckling, clearly thinking this was a farce. I bet I could still reach in and flick off—

“Nope.” Reagan stood. “This might not work, boys. I can control my dislike of that meathead because I mostly dislike everyone. I’ve had practice. But she hasn’t, and she is planning horrible things. I can feel it.”

Emery nodded and shifted so he could look back at me, his eyes sparkling with confidence. He wasn’t passing judgment. He was ready to fight with me, if it came to that. I could see it in his posture, feel it in his magical chemistry as it connected with mine.

His chemistry? What the hell was going on with me?

“Let’s start again, shall we?” Darius stood and gestured me over.

“I must admit, Darius, you have come a long way,” Unnaturally Handsome said, his perfectly smooth voice filled with delight. “That was a fabulous demonstration. If only we’d had the resources to let it continue.”

As I drifted toward Emery, trying to straighten up but wary of what a little confidence would do to the energy still surging around me, I realized the blond shifter, Roger, hadn’t stopped assessing me, staring with one brown eye and one blue. He hadn’t written me off as the other one had.

His magic simmered on low heat, pleasant and wholesome, and I knew, without a doubt, that he was someone I could trust. I felt it so deeply that I didn’t think to wonder how I knew. To have any shot of winning, we needed him on our side.


“No big deal, and it’s totally fine,” I said quietly to Emery as I grabbed the back of a seat near the end of the table and rolled it closer to him. I didn’t want to sit too close to Bursting Jacket, for fear he’d set me off again, and nor did I want to be on the other side so Roger could continue to stare at me. While I didn’t question his trustworthiness, he had a crazy kind of intensity that liquefied my bones and turned my stomach to mush. I could see why he was Alpha. “But I’m cracking up a little. Just a little, and it’ll probably pass, but I don’t feel entirely normal.”

Emery glanced at me, his gaze guarded. “Can you make it through this?”

I sure hoped so.

“Did you not smell her?” Reagan asked Roger.

“No,” he said, his gaze pounding into the side of my head. “Not even a whiff. I didn’t hear her, either.”

“She was encased in a spell, of sorts.” Emery scooted over a little and dragged my chair even closer to share the space at the end of the table. “We have what’s called survival magic, and Penny uses it in ways…I’ve never seen. This time she was blending hers with mine to create a sort of…shield, I would call it.”

Oh. That made sense, but it was my first indication I’d done any such thing.

“Yes,” Unnaturally Handsome said, delicately clasping his long fingers on the tabletop. “Her person was obscured from view. My eye wanted to move along, but in a way I haven’t experienced with similar spells. I just…didn’t want to notice her. I wanted to forget her presence.”

“Penny has an innate ability to feel out the perfect spell for any given situation. Unfortunately, in dire circumstances, she does it unconsciously,” Darius said, drawing everyone’s attention my way. “We’re working to change that, of course. In Emery she has found someone who can train her exactly how she needs to learn, and in Reagan she has found safe chaos in which to practice to her full potential. She is progressing rapidly.”

“Rapidly enough for what lies ahead?” Unnaturally Handsome asked.

Darius pulled his gaze away from me and met Unnaturally Handsome’s. “Whether she has or not, we’ve run out of time.” He swept his gaze around the table. “Let’s officially start, shall we? Why don’t we go around the table and introduce ourselves. Everyone knows Reagan and me, so we won’t bore you with redundancy. Penny, why don’t you start?”

“I’m Penny.” I cleared my throat as the intense gazes of the shifters and the velvety gazes of the vampires pinned on me, all disconcerting. “Penny Bristol. And”—Emery chuckled, though I had no idea why—“I’m the untrained natural witch we were just talking about.”

“Did you say witch?” Bursting Jacket’s haughty tone indicated he was less than impressed.

“Mage,” I amended quickly.

“No.” Emery dropped his warm hand to my knee. “Witch was true enough. She wasn’t trained in the typical mage style. She has largely felt out her magic, like witches do. She’s stronger for it. I learn from her as often as I teach.”

“But…she has the power of a mage?” Roger asked, and there was no condescension in his tone. He was simply trying to clarify, unlike the other Alpha.

“She has the power of a natural,” Emery said. “She easily rivals me. I have more experience and world knowledge, but she has more creativity. Together, we are the perfect team.”

“I can validate his assessment. They work exceptionally well together,” Darius said. “The best I have ever seen, and they are not yet dual-mages.” Emery stiffened slightly. “This is often the case, of course…with a natural pairing.”

Unnaturally Handsome leaned forward just a little, his body language showing the interest his face didn’t express.

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