Mercenary Magic Page 26

When he’d devoured the steak, he waved over the waiter so he could order dessert. The waiter turned to her, but she just shook her head.

“I’m full.”

“Bring a second slice of cheesecake,” Kai told him, and the waiter scurried off.

Sera resisted the urge to draw her sword. “I said I was full.”

“You did.” He didn’t get it.

“Why are you such a control freak? What gives you the right to decide what’s best for everyone?” She tried to keep her tone level, but, yeah, he was really starting to piss her off.

He met her glower with a calm smile. “When the cake comes, and you still don’t want it, then I’ll just eat yours too.”

Whatever. This was all a game to him, and she would not play along. The waiter returned with their dessert: two slices of cheesecake with a chocolate crust and raspberries on top. It looked good—maybe even good enough to make her forget she was stuffed. But she wasn’t about to give Kai the satisfaction. He was already watching her with a smug smirk on his face, like he knew she wanted it. He leaned in toward her, magic rolling off of him, flooding her, filling her with heat…

He froze, and the magic snapped back into him. His eyes looked past her shoulder. “Our man has arrived.”

“What?” She shivered. The sudden withdrawal of his magic had left her cold.

“Harrison Sage,” he said. “Olivia’s brother. He’s just sitting down. Five tables behind you.”

Sera didn’t look. She didn’t need to. She could feel him back there; his magic felt very similar to Olivia’s. He wasn’t a telekinetic, but their magic shared that same familial undercurrent.

“I thought we were here to eat,” she said.

“We can do both,” he replied as he stood. “Come on. Let’s go pay him a visit.”

She followed him to Harrison’s table. This time, no one gawked at them as they crossed the room—at least not openly. What thoughts were spinning around in their heads she didn’t know but could easily guess. She’d tromped across their fancy restaurant in muddy shoes and jeans cut off at the knees. Her lower legs were wrapped in bandages, her arms tattooed with scratches. Dirt, sweat, and dried blood were competing for prominence on her top, and her hair looked like she’d jammed her finger into an electrical socket.

“Harrison,” Kai greeted the mage. “Fancy meeting you here.”

He dipped his chin in response. “Kai. How are things? How’s business?”


Harrison’s smile was perfect, his tone practiced. “Really? I’d heard you were having problems. A series of break-ins?”

Yeah, the two of them totally despised each other. Maybe they’d once fought over the same magical toy.

“It’s funny you should mention that,” said Kai. “Because we’ve just had another one this afternoon.”

“Oh, really? Sorry to hear that.”

“And the incursion was led by your sister.”

Harrison snorted. “Are you sure that was an ‘incursion’ and not just Olivia being moody? You know how she gets sometimes. Maybe you annoyed her.”

“She blasted me through a glyph that transported me clear across the Golden Gate Bridge,” Kai said drily.

Harrison laughed. “Yeah, you annoyed her all right.”

Kai gave him the dragon’s grin. You know, the one a poor, unsuspecting sap got before becoming dinner. The smile died on Harrison’s lips.

“We aren’t talking about a silly prank like the one she once pulled with the multiplying fireworks over New York. This is hardcore, ancient magic. And Olivia used it to get me out of the way so she could steal from me. If you don’t do something about her, I will. And trust me when I say, she won’t like it.”

“There’s no need for threats. I’ll pay you for whatever she took.”

“I don’t want your money. I want my property returned to me.”

“I’ll look into it.”

Harrison was such a bad liar. Kai picked up on that as well. His expression hardened.

“What do you know about all this?”

“I?” He pretended to look surprised. “Nothing.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire. His magic had shifted pitch when he’d lied. It was practically screaming inside Sera’s ears.

Kai glared down at him, then his eyes swept the room. A trio of bodyguards stood nearby, watching the exchange.

“I’ll be in touch,” Kai told Harrison, then turned and walked away.

“He’s lying,” Sera whispered as they made their way to the entrance hall.

“Later,” he said, low and quiet.

He paid, and they left the restaurant, each with a boxed dessert in their hands. Kai waited until they were in his car and driving off down the street before speaking.

“You’re right. He is lying. He’s always been an atrocious liar. His magic tingles when he lies,” he said. “He knows something about the theft.”

“But what?” Sera asked. She didn’t mention that she’d felt the very same thing from Harrison’s magic.

“I don’t know. But I will find out. That I guarantee.”


Legacy of Magic

SERA’S APARTMENT WAS only about a ten-minute drive away from Illusion, but they might as well have been worlds apart. Pristine lawns on enormous upscale estates gave way to blocks of cute little row houses and apartment buildings. The dividing line between San Francisco’s magical playground and the real city couldn’t have been more obvious if they’d planted the Great Wall of China at the border.

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