Mercenary Magic Page 20

“You’re welcome.”

She glared at him.

“Careful there, Sera. When you’re upset, your wall cracks. I’m getting a whiff of your magic.” He inhaled long and deep. “Mmm. Delicious.” He shot her a roguish smile. Which she ignored. Or pretended to, anyway.

“I had it.”

“Really? Because it looked to me like you were in distress.”

In distress, my ass. “I had it,” she ground out, passing under the ice rainbow.

She spun around, launching herself up to slam a kick hard against the twins’ heads. One, two, they went down like a pair of dominoes. See? That’s what she meant. Total lightweights.

“Good,” Kai said as she passed back under the rainbow.

“I’m glad you approve,” she said drily.

“Fighting without magic against magical foes certainly has forced you to be creative.”

“Yes.”

“But you’d make it much easier on yourself if you just used your magic,” he said. “Why don’t you? What are you afraid of? That you’ll get addicted?”

That happened to some mages. They used their powers so much that they turned into magic junkies, always after the next hit. The quest for the next hit quickly escalated into mages going mad, attacking people randomly until the Magic Council sent in a team to deal with the menace. Sometimes, the Magic Council was too slow to act, and that’s when scared people started flocking to Mayhem and the other mercenary guilds, begging them to take out the psycho mage well on his way to turning their neighborhood into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Sera had once been on a team Simmons had charged with taking out one of these magic junkies—and she had the scars to remember him by. Mages drunk on magic were powerful and resilient. They didn’t feel pain like a normal person would. To them, it was just background noise. The power was all that mattered. Using that power was all that mattered. Sort of like Finn when she’d fought him, come to think of it.

“Are you afraid you’ll get addicted to the magic?” he repeated.

“No.”

“You think you can avoid talking about this. You can’t,” said Kai.

“Sure I can. Just. Like. This.” Sera turned and started to walk away.

“Running away?”

“Walking away.”

Behind her, ice roared, and she pivoted around to watch the entire rainbow collapse like a shattered mirror. A million shiny shards rained down on Kai. They burst into flames, dissolving into whiffs of steam before they could touch him.

“What is the matter with you!” she demanded, charging up to him. “Normal people don’t act like this. They don’t—”

He body-slammed her to the ground, rolling as they fell so that she landed on top of him. Something whistled over their heads.

“What the hell do you think—”

He pressed his finger to her lips, then pointed across the parking lot at the fence that separated his plot from Battery Spencer next door. Magic rippled down the metal web, tearing it from the posts.

“Oh, so you’re telekinetic too? Wow, aren’t you one special guy.” She jumped off of him.

He rose from the ground. “I’m not telekinetic.”

“What?”

“I’m not doing that.”

“Then who is?”

“I am,” a woman’s shrill voice sang out.

Sera turned. The mage was standing on top of one of the buildings, her arms extended high to the heavens. Nearby, Miss Lightning stumbled shakily to her feet and pounded her fist against the ground. A river of lightning split across the asphalt, hitting the glyphs, which burst into a halo of glowing light.

The telekinetic swung her arms around, and the metal web shot toward them. A second lightning blast hit Kai in the chest, knocking him back. As he fell toward the shining glyphs, Sera reached out and grabbed his hands, pulling hard.

But the blast was too strong, its momentum sucking her up. They both fell through the glyphs into darkness.

CHAPTER TEN

Falling

SERA HIT THE ground, dirt and pebbles scraping against her bare shoulder as she slid down the hill. She slammed face-first into a spiky bush, which stopped her uncontrolled descent. It also hurt like hell.

A hand caught her around the wrist, pulling her to her feet. She glanced back at Kai. His clothes were neat, his face clean. He certainly didn’t look like a tornado had sucked him up and spit him out. How was that even possible? He’d been fighting just like she had.

“You’re hurt,” he said.

Sera followed his gaze down her legs to the mess that was her jeans. The bottoms were frayed and dirty, and a thick spread of pointy stones had sunk through the fabric and into her calves. That explained the burning sensation that had been steadily growing since the fight.

“I’ll be fine.”

His eyes narrowed, and his lips drew thin. “How much pain are you in right now?”

None, because I’ve blocked out most sensation below my knees. “I’ll be fine.”

“Are you always this stubborn?”

“Yep. Stubborn and rude. That’s me.”

Sighing, he pointed at a nearby boulder jammed into the hill. “Sit. I’m going to take a look at those wounds.”

She considered telling him to shove it, but he was right. She was hurt. If someone else decided to attack them—which, based on how splendidly her day had played out so far, was pretty likely—she’d be next to useless in this state. And if there was one thing she couldn’t stand, it was being useless. She could be mature for a few seconds and let Kai take a look at her torn-up legs.

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