Mercenary Magic Page 16

“How were you going to get past the security measures?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Where did the extra magic you had come from?”

“I don’t know.”

Well, aren’t you helpful. Sera bit back the words. What had happened to Finn wasn’t his fault. She wasn’t the mean dragon; she could remember that.

“Is there anything else you can tell me that could help us stop whoever is doing this?” she asked.

He paled. “You can’t.”

“Can’t what?”

“Can’t stop this. Whoever is doing this is too powerful.” He looked at his cousin. “Even more powerful than you, Kai.”

The dragon cracked his knuckles. “We’ll see about that.”

“No. It’s too late. Too late for all of us,” Finn spluttered out quickly. “I saw San Francisco burning. Legions of monsters tearing through the city. Dead bodies in the streets. Everywhere. The bay bubbled with hot blood. And above it all, high in the sky, a dark, sinister magic hanging over the city like a storm cloud about to burst. The end. The end is coming. A magical apocalypse will crush the city. We are doomed.”

“Those were the thoughts of the person controlling you?” she asked.

Finn began to rock back and forth. “The end. The end is coming. A magical apocalypse will crush the city. We are doomed.”

“What does the thing you were trying to steal have to do with all of this? Will it bring about this destruction?”

His eyes glazing over, Finn rocked harder. “The end. The end is coming. A magical apocalypse will crush the city. We are doomed.”

“Finn?”

“Don’t bother,” the dragon told her as Finn muttered on. “He’s gotten like this every time we’ve tried to dig too deep. Whoever hijacked his body put safeguards into place.”

“This is why we came here. You wanted me to see him like this. Why?”

“I thought it would motivate you to know the city is in danger. From the look in your eyes, I can see that I was right.”

Sera stood. Crazy, rambling Finn was too much. The tenor of his magic had changed from nervous to full-out nuts. It was giving her a headache.

“You could just have told me,” she said.

“You don’t trust me.”

He had a point.

“It’s better this way,” he said. “It’s better for you to see for yourself what we’re facing. And you won’t try to back out of this assignment, not now that you know the stakes.”

“You manipulated me.” The words scraped against her tongue.

“I’d like to think of it as motivation, not manipulation.”

“You can think whatever you want, but that doesn’t change what it is,” she shot back. “You’ve done nothing but manipulate me and my brother ever since you poked your head into our lives, and you wonder why I don’t trust you. Seriously?”

He stared at her for a few seconds before expelling a martyred sigh. “There are more important things going on here than your bruised ego. You’re being hard-headed.”

Says the hard-headed dragon.

“Let’s worry about saving the city first,” he continued. “After that, if you’re still mad at me, we can fight it out. I’ll even let you throw the first punch. And I won’t tell Simmons either.”

“Deal,” Sera said, grinning.

Oh, he had no idea what he’d just gotten himself into. She’d spent the last twenty years learning how to take down monsters. And when it came down to it, a dragon was nothing more than just another monster.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Replay

A COLD, WET wind bit at Sera’s arms and face. If she’d known she’d be paying a visit to the scene of Finn Drachenburg’s magical meltdown, she’d have packed her leather jacket. Or at least a sweater. A tank top was no defense against the winds of San Francisco.

Beside her, the dragon looked around the parking lot. His t-shirt wasn’t any more wind-resistant than her top, but he walked around like the cold didn’t bother him one bit. Maybe he had a fire roaring inside of him—or dragon scales hidden beneath his skin.

“Why are we here? Finn doesn’t remember what he was trying to steal. What exactly do you expect to find, Mr. Drachenburg?”

He stopped in front of a wall tie-dyed with black scorch marks, then looked back at her. “Kai.”

“Sorry?”

He turned the rest of the way around. “Call me Kai.”

“Simmons wouldn’t like that very much.”

“Forget about Simmons. He’s not here. And he’s not your client. I am,” he said. “I want you to call me Kai.”

“Very well. Kai.”

It didn’t sound as intimidating as Drachenburg. And that was dangerous. Intimidating was good. It reminded her of what he was: a threat hidden beneath a handsome mask.

“Good. Mr. Drachenburg is my father. Or it’s what other people—people who revere me, who are scared of me—call me.”

“I’m too insubordinate to revere people, no matter who they are. And I’m too stupid to be scared of anyone.”

He laughed. “No, you’re not. You only pretend to be.”

“I hunt down misbehaving monsters for a living. That’s not smart; it’s pretty damn dumb.”

“Dumb and desperate are two entirely different things. You took a dangerous job because you needed the money. The fact that you’ve survived all these years proves you’re not just a dumb brute.”

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