Mercenary Magic Page 29

“What are you doing out here, standing all alone in the dark?” he asked.

Sera looked around. Kai was nowhere in sight. She heard the rumble of an engine and tires crinkling over gravel as a car drove out of the parking lot. Wow, he sure moved fast.

“Did you lose your keys?” Riley asked.

“No,” she said wearily. The insanity of the day was finally catching up to her, and she was crashing.

Riley’s eyes narrowed as his eyes took in the blood-dried bandages, the torn-off jeans, and whatever else was wrong with her. She hadn’t looked in a mirror in hours, which was a good thing.

“Sera, what happened to you?” He frowned. “You look like shit.”

“Thanks. I love you too,” she said, slipping past him to go inside. “It’s been a long day. I’m going to shower and call it a night.”

“Wait.”

She stopped her tired shuffle down the hall and looked back at him.

“What’s that?”

He pointed at the doormat. There, beside the potted lavender plant sat the two cake boxes, stacked one on top of the other. Sera took a step back and swept them up into her arms. She gave the boxes a hard glare. Cats dumped dead mice on your doorstep. Maybe dragons left you cake. Kai was making a power play, marking his territory or some other such dragon nonsense.

Yeah, so that wasn’t happening. She handed the boxes off to Riley.

“Here. I brought you cheesecake. Enjoy.”

He peeked inside, then shot her a grin. “Sweet! I haven’t eaten yet. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Sera said.

And as she trudged down the hall toward the bathroom, she wondered what the hell she was going to do about that dragon.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Magic Smoothies

THE NEXT MORNING, Sera slept in until ten. Then she changed into her workout clothes, pulled her hair up into a high ponytail, and headed for the kitchen. She gave Riley’s door a good morning thump along the way.

“Rise and shine, sleeping beauty!”

A string of muffled curses came from the closed door.

“Hey, you were the one who wanted to run with me,” she reminded him. “I’ll be heading out in half an hour. You snooze, you lose. And losers get dishwashing duty.”

Something hit the door. It sounded like a pillow.

“That’s nice. But I suggest you save your energy for the trail. You’ll need it when you’re eating my dust.”

A second pillow smacked the door. Then the bed creaked, and two feet landed hard on the floor. Satisfied that he was conscious enough to at least zombie-walk his way to the bathroom for a wakeup shower, Sera continued on to the kitchen. She poured herself a full bowl of granola and sat down with a stack of magic books.

She skimmed the index of each book for instructions on how to mask her magic, but came up short. She’d already read everything they had and then some on the topic. It was the very first skill Dad had taught her and Alex, and they’d spent over two decades perfecting it. It had never failed. Never. Until she’d met Kai. He was the only one who’d ever been able to sense her magic. She didn’t even know what to do about him. It was probably too late anyway. The damage was done. She’d just have to make sure no one else ever found out—and hope Kai didn’t spill the beans.

After texting a note to Riley to read up on masking magic at his school library, she moved on to the glyphs. This time, she fared better, finding a few passages about the ancient symbols in two different books. By the time she had read through them all, she’d finished her breakfast. She typed the key points about glyphs into her phone, then went to the sink to wash out her bowl.

Her cell phone buzzed. She took one look at the number, then hit ignore.

The home phone rang. The call was from a funny number with lots of digits. Safe. Sera swiped it off the stand.

“Hey, Alex.”

“Sera. Did I wake you?”

“No, I just finished breakfast and was about to head out for a run.” She fiddled with the peeling corner of the cheap kitchen table they used only for breakfast. “How are you?”

“Busy.”

“Are you still in Zurich?”

“Yep. Look, things are super crazy right now. It looks like I’m going to be here much longer than I’d thought. Will you and Riley be all right for awhile without me?”

Translation: I’m having a blast hunting supernatural baddies, while being free to party and do whatever carefree people do, and I don’t want to come back.

“Sure. I’ll try to remember to feed him when he gets hungry.”

Silence hissed from the other end of the line for a few seconds before Alex said, “After I get back, we’ll go hunt down some nasty monster who’s wrecking havoc on the city.”

If she ever came back. Mayhem had flown Alex across a freaking ocean because the world’s most famous supernatural had asked for her. Gaelyn. He was the first immortal. People said he was over six thousand years old, though no one knew for certain. One thing was for sure, though: the ancient immortal was as rich as he was old. And Alex worked for him now. When she was finished with whatever task he’d given her, would she want to return to their mundane life? Sera had heard there were balls in Europe. She’d always wanted to go to a ball. If this were a fairytale, her fairy godmother would swoop in and turn her cutoff jeans and torn shirt into a magnificent gown, then whisk her off to the ball.

But life was no fairytale. Any ball she managed to find herself at would include dancing zombies and a swarm of hungry vampires. Well, admittedly she’d landed a prestigious assignment too. Unfortunately, it had come with an arrogant dragon.

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