Mercenary Magic Page 28

“Thirty.”

Not so many years older than she was.

“You’re surprised,” Kai said. “Do I look so old?”

No. “Yes.”

He chuckled as he turned into the parking lot. “Where can I park?”

“Anywhere. Most of us who live here don’t have cars.”

“How do you get around?”

“With the bus. Or my scooter.” She frowned at him. “Why are you laughing?”

“I’m picturing you explaining to the bus driver that you don’t, in fact, plan to massacre every living soul on his bus with that big sword you carry around.”

“Plenty of people bring their gear onto public transportation. I have a license for the sword, and I always carry my Mayhem badge. People are actually relieved to see it because it means they’re safe as long as I’m traveling with them. If members of the vampire mafia try to hijack the bus, I’ve got it covered.”

He turned off the engine. “Has that ever happened?”

“No,” she said as they both stepped out of the car.

She followed the cobbled path past a lonely picnic bench and a dusty patch of dirt in the grass that the neighborhood winged cat liked to use as a litter box. All the tenants did their part in cleaning up after the stray. If you let winged cat poop sit too long in the sun, it combusted. And spread fast. Entire cities had caught on fire thanks to a few magical cat droppings.

San Francisco was one of them. The disaster of 1906? That was all thanks to a magic-drunk elemental mage and a whole lot of winged cat poop. Not that the general population knew the truth. They all believed that earthquake story propagated by the Magic Council.

“I don’t need an escort,” Sera told Kai, who was keeping pace beside her.

“Last time I was here, vampires attacked. I feel obliged to at least check under your bed for monsters this time around.”

“You are not going anywhere near my bed.”

“Fine. You can check for monsters under my bed.”

She’d been reaching for the doorknob when her hand dropped out of the air, like a harpy who’d just been firebombed. “Are you propositioning me?”

“Are you accepting?” He sure looked serious, and he had such a tight wrap on his magic that Sera couldn’t tell if he was lying. “Today was fun.”

“Fun?” Now she knew he must be messing with her. “Which part? The battle at MRL, being teleported across the bridge, or the arrogant prick at the restaurant?”

“All of it,” he said. “I should get out of the office more often. I should hang out with fun people more often. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be around another normal person for a change.”

Normal? Neither of them was the least bit normal. Potent and ancient, his magic was off the charts. And she… Well, she was an abomination, right?

“You consider yourself normal, do you?” she asked.

“No, I’m a bloodthirsty psychopath. Just like you.”

He leaned in, his arms braced against the doorframe, his eyes burning with need. Sera could almost see the dragon peeking out from behind the man. The dragon was powerful, seductive, and ruthless. It was wrapped in a magic as old as the world itself.

“Speak for yourself.” She suppressed a shudder as his magic slid over her shoulders, sending rivers of liquid heat down her back. “Hey, I told you to knock that off.”

“Your lips say one thing. Your magic says another.” His whispered words caressed her cheek. “And right now it’s singing.”

“For you to stop,” she breathed out. Yeah, breathing. That was getting hard.

“You don’t want me to stop.”

No, she really didn’t. But right now she was suffering from very poor judgement. She shoved out her hands to push him away. He hopped back, laughing.

“Is that the best you can do?” he taunted.

“No.” She swung a punch at him, aiming for that arrogant smirk.

She missed.

He pivoted out of her way, flicking her on the back as she passed by him. “Too slow.”

She spun around to hit him again, but he ducked. He was fast. Just not fast enough. Adrenaline pumping in her ears, she pounded her fists down hard on his head.

“Damn it, Sera,” he growled, stumbling back. “That hurt.”

But he was still standing. Anyone else would have had the decency to pass out. Not the dragon, though. Oh, no. He was far too stubborn.

She swung another punch at him, but he caught her hand and twisted it behind her back. “Let go.”

“I’m not holding you very tightly. You could break free.” He leaned in closer. “But you haven’t.” His lips brushed against hers, teasing her with promises of more. “Why is that?”

“Because you’re my client.” She nipped his lip. “I can’t attack you or else—”

Kai pulled her against him, swallowing her words whole. His tongue plunged into her open mouth, his kiss hard and urgent. His magic wasn’t wrapped away—not anymore. It slammed and smashed against hers, saturating her every pore. She knew this was a really, really, really bad idea, and she just didn’t care. She wanted to drown in his magic and never come up for air.

Floodlights blared down, blasting her with blinding light. Except it wasn’t floodlights, her mind was trying to tell her. It was the porch light. Something clinked and jiggled. Metal. The door! Sera pushed back from Kai, landing on the doormat as the door opened. Riley looked out at her.

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