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A Fistful of Charms
A Fistful of Charms

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A Fistful of Charms

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2019
Добавлена: 29.06.2019
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“Your demon spells?” Jenks said bitingly, and I frowned, not wanting to argue.

“I’ll let her in,” Kisten said as he stood. “I’ve got to go. I—have an appointment.”

His voice was strained, and I backed up, feeling like dirt when I saw his rising hunger. Crap, he was having a hard time staying balanced tonight. I was never going to do that again.

Kisten smoothly reached out, and I didn’t move when he put his hands lightly on my shoulder and gave me a quick kiss. “I’ll call you after we close. You going to be up?”

I nodded. “Kisten, I’m sorry,” I whispered, and he gave me a smile before walking out with slow, measured steps. Riling him up without being able to satisfy his hunger wasn’t fair.

Jenks landed on the table beside me, his wings clattering for my attention. “Rachel, that’s demon magic,” he said, his belligerent attitude not hiding his worry.

“That’s why I asked Ceri to look at it,” I said. “I’ve got this under control.”

“But it’s demon magic! Ivy, tell her she’s being stupid.”

“She knows she’s being stupid.” Ivy closed her computer down with a few clicks. “See what she did to Kist?”

I crossed my arms. “All right, it’s demon magic. But that doesn’t necessarily make it black. Can we hear what Ceri says before we decide anything?” We. Yeah, we. It was we again, and it was going to stay that way, damn it.

In a surge of motion, Ivy rose, stretching for the ceiling in her black jeans and a tight knit shirt. She grabbed her purse and shouted, “Wait up, Kist!”

Jenks and I stared at her. “You’re going with him?” I asked for both of us.

Ivy’s look, rife with disapproval, was aimed at me. “I want to make sure no one takes advantage of him and he ends up hating himself when the sun comes up.” She shrugged into her jacket and put on her shades though it was dark out. “If you pulled that on me, I’d pin you to the wall and have at it. Kist is a gentleman. You don’t deserve him.”

My breath caught at the memory of my back to the wall and Kisten’s lips on my neck. A spike of remembered need raced from my neck to my groin. Ivy sucked in her breath as if I’d slapped her, her heightened senses taking in my state as easily as I could see the sparkles sifting from Jenks. “I’m sorry,” I said, though my skin was tingling. “I wasn’t thinking.”

“That’s why I gave you the damn book,” she said tightly. “So you wouldn’t have to.”

“What did she do?” Jenks asked, but Ivy had walked out, boot heels clunking. “What book? The one about dating vampires? Tink’s panties, you still have that?” he added.

“I’ll bring back a pizza,” Ivy called, unseen from the hallway.

“What did you do, Rache?” Jenks said, the wind from his wings cooling my cheeks.

“I put on Kisten’s shirt and did jumping jacks,” I said, embarrassed.

The small pixy snorted, going to the windowsill to check on the rain. “You keep pulling stunts like that and people will think you want to be bitten.”

“Yeah,” I muttered, taking a sip of my cooling coffee and leaning against the center island counter. I was still making mistakes. Then I remembered what Quen had once told me. If you do it once, it’s a mistake. If you do it twice, it’s not a mistake anymore.

Five (#ulink_b5bd2d3d-f770-52ba-b4e2-270b8a86c4a7)

I looked up when the soft conversation in the sanctuary gave way to clipped steps and Ceri peered hesitantly around the corner of the archway. Pulling the rain hood from her, she smiled, clearly pleased to see Jenks and me back on speaking terms. “Jenks, about Trent…” I said, seeing his wings turn an excited red. He knew that whatever Trent was, Ceri was the same.

“I can figure this out myself,” he said, focusing on Ceri. “Shut your mouth.”

I shut my mouth.

I stood and extended my hands to give Ceri a hug. I wasn’t a touchy-feely person, but Ceri was. She had been Al’s familiar until I stole her in the breath of time between her retirement and my attempted installment. Glancing briefly at my neck and bandaged knuckles, she pressed her lips disapprovingly, but thankfully said nothing. Her small, almost ethereal stature met mine, and the hand-tooled silver crucifix Ivy had given her made a cold spot through my shirt. The hug was brief but sincere, and she was smiling when she put me at arm’s length. She had thin, fair hair that she wore free and flowing, a small chin, delicate nose, large pride, short temper, and a mild demeanor unless challenged.

She took off her rain cape and draped it over Ivy’s chair, the self-proclaimed “throne” of the room. Al had dressed her commensurate to her earthly status while in his service—treating her as a favored slave/servant/bed warmer as well as an adornment—and though she now wore jeans and a sweater in her usual purple, gold, and black, instead of a skin-tight gown of shimmering silk and gold, the bearing was still there.

“Thanks for coming over,” I said, genuinely glad to see her. “Do you want some tea?”

“No, thank you.” She elegantly extended a narrow hand for Jenks to land on. “It’s good to see you back where you can help the people who need you the most, master pixy,” she said to him, and I would swear he turned three shades of red.

“Hi, Ceri,” he said. “You look well-rested. Did you sleep well tonight?”

Her heart-shaped face went crafty, knowing he was trying to decipher what kind of Inderlander she was by her sleep patterns. “I have yet to take my evening rest,” she said, shifting her fingers until he took to the air. Her gaze went to the open book on the table. “Is that it?”

A thrill of adrenaline went through me. “One of them. Is it demon?”

Tucking her long fair hair behind an ear, she leaned to take a closer look. “Oh yes.”

Suddenly I was a whole lot more nervous, and I set my mug on the counter while my stomach churned. “There are a couple of charms I might want to try. Would you look at them for me and tell me what you think?”

Ceri’s delicate features glowed with pleasure. “I’d love to.”

I exhaled in a puff of relief. “Thanks.” Wiping my hands on my jeans, I pointed to the curse to Were. “This one here. What about it? Do you think I can do it all right?”

The tips of her severely straight hair touched the stain-spotted, yellow text as she bent over the book. Frowning, she gathered the strands up and out of the way. Jenks flitted to the table as she squinted, alighting on the saltshaker. There was a crash from the living room followed by a chorus of pixy shrieks, and he sighed. “I’ll be right back,” he said, buzzing out.

“I’ve stirred this one before,” she said, fingers hovering over the print.

“What does it do?” I asked, nervous all over again. “I mean, would it make me into a real wolf, or would I just look like one?”

Ceri straightened, her gaze darting to the hallway as Jenks’s high-pitched harangue filtered in, making my eyeballs hurt. “It’s a standard morphing curse, the same class that Al uses. You keep your intelligence and personality, same as when you shift with an earth charm. The difference is the blending of you and wolf goes to the cellular level. If there were two of you, you could have pups with a witch’s IQ if you stayed a wolf through gestation.”

My mouth dropped open. I reached out to touch the page, then drew back. “Oh.”

With casual interest, she ran her finger down the list of ingredients, all in Latin. “This won’t turn you into a Were, but this is how werewolves got started,” she said conversationally. “There was a fad about six millennia ago where demons would torment a human woman in payment for a vanity wish by forcing a demon wolf/human pairing. It always resulted in a human child that could Were.”

My eyes darted to her, but she didn’t notice my fear. God, how…disgusting. And tragic for both the woman and child. The shame of dealing with a demon would never fade, always tied as it was to the love of a child. I’d often wondered how the Weres had gotten started, since they weren’t from the ever-after like witches and elves.

“Would you like me to make it for you?” Ceri asked, her green eyes placid.

I jerked, my focus sharpening. “It’s okay to use?”

Nodding, she reached under the counter for my smallest copper spell pot. “I don’t mind. I could do this one in my sleep. Making curses is what demon familiars do. It will take all of thirty minutes.” Seemingly unaware of my bewilderment, she casually moved the curse book to the island counter. “Demons aren’t any more powerful than witches,” she said. “But they’re prepared for anything, so it looks like they’re stronger.”

“But Al morphs so fast, and into so many things,” I protested, leaning against the counter.

Tiny boots clicking, Ceri turned from one of my cupboards, a wad of wolf’s bane in her hand. The stuff was toxic in large doses, and I felt a twinge of worry. “Al is a higher demon,” she said. “You could probably best a lesser, surface demon with the earth magic you have in your charm cupboard, though with enough prep work a surface demon is as powerful as Al.”

Was she saying I could best Al with my magic? I didn’t believe that for a second.

With a preoccupied grace, Ceri lit the Sterno flame canister from a taper she started from the gas burner. The stove served as my “hearth fire,” since the pilot light was always burning, and it made for a stable beginning to any spell. “Ceri,” I protested. “I can do this.”
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