Mercenary Magic Page 5

What she didn’t tell Riley was that she didn’t hold out much hope for that possibility. Anyone that powerful would have felt her weird magic instantly, even though she was masking it too. But maybe he didn’t care. Or maybe she’d have to fight him. If that turned out to be the case, she preferred to do it without Riley in the room. She was a brutal fighter, and her little brother didn’t need to see that.

Sera stepped into the living room, brushing the door shut behind her. Kai stood beside the coffee table, his cool blue eyes holding her gaze, tracking her progress across the room. She was nearly to him when the front door swung open. Proving that every bad day was just waiting to get worse, three vampires flooded inside, their red eyes gleaming with rage.

CHAPTER THREE

Vampires and Dragons

THEY WERE COMMON vampires, not shapeshifters or demon-powered. Thank goodness for small favors. But they didn’t need powerful magic to tear her to bits. Vampires—even common ones—were no joke. They moved fast, hit hard, and could take a beating. The vampire elite liked to use these monsters as foot soldiers. They dealt a lot of damage and were completely expendable, at least as far as the vampire elite was concerned.

From the red gleam in these vampires’ eyes, they were caught up in blood rage, which meant they’d be even tougher than usual. They lumbered forward, their muscular bodies clashing with their sickly, sallow skin. Glistening threads of beaded saliva dangled from their fangs, and their eyes screamed hunger. Every single one of those eyes was fixed on Sera.

Her sword was in her room, too far away. They’d be on her before she could get to it. She drew the knife strapped to her thigh. It wasn’t designed to decapitate, but there was more than one way to kill a vampire.

“Stay in the kitchen, Riley!” she shouted over the beastly grunts.

She heard the kitchen door slide shut again.

The vampires charged through the apartment, toppling a side table and scattering chairs in their mad rush to get to her. Sera launched the knife. It hit a vampire square in the forehead. He went down so fast that the other two stumbled over his body. Wet snarls rattled their teeth. They came at her, swinging their clawed fists around with skull-shattering force. She ducked, and the vampires smashed each other in the head. Bone crunched. Sera darted past their falling bodies, retrieved her knife, and quickly stabbed them each in the heart, just to be safe.

“That was impressive.”

Sera looked at Kai, who was leaning casually against the wall. His body was relaxed, his eyes amused. Just as he’d been for the entire fight. He had all that magic, and he hadn’t even lifted a finger to help. Sure, the vampires hadn’t been the brightest bunch, their brains overcooked with blood lust. But they were strong enough that she couldn’t risk taking a hit from one of them. Not if she wanted to stand up again. She could have died, and he was acting like it was all some big joke. Maybe he’d even sent the vampires. That was just the sort of thing a first tier mage would do for amusement.

She wanted to scream at him, to demand what the hell was the matter with him. She shrugged instead.

“If you thought that was impressive, you should have seen me chop monstrous caterpillars to bits earlier today.”

That’s right. I’m just a dumb brute with a sword and a lot of knives. I hack and I chop. There’s not a shred of magic in that.

Kai’s lip twitched. “I’m sorry I missed it.” His eyes panned down her legs, the look in them almost indecent. “I was wondering what that stinky goo all over your boots was.”

Or he just thought she stank. But she didn’t care what he thought. Not even a little.

“Well, now I have vampire blood all over my clothes to go with the stinky goo.”

And why did she just say that? Oh, right. Because I’m a moron. That’s why.

“Indeed.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out his buzzing phone. His blue eyes scanned the screen quickly, then he tucked the phone back into his pocket and looked at her. “There’s an emergency at the office. I have to go.”

“Kitten with a sprained ankle?”

He gave her a grin—a smug, sexy, satisfied grin. “Goodbye, Sera.” He turned and walked toward the door, pausing in front of the kitchen on the way out. “Talk to you later, Riley.”

Riley stepped into the hall. “You going to the run at the park tomorrow?”

“No, I have something big going on at work this weekend. I’ll try to come next week.”

Then he put on his shoes and left.

“Am I allowed to come over there now, or will you chew me out again?” Riley asked when they were alone again.

“I didn’t chew you out.” Sera grabbed one of the vampire corpses by the shoulders and dragged him toward the front door. “I was trying to protect you.” She waved for Riley to follow her back to the living room. “And I can’t protect you if you’re standing in the middle of the battlefield.”

“Maybe you don’t need to protect me at all. I’m not completely helpless, you know. I have skills.”

“You’re studying Magical Sciences. You mix together magic substances in a laboratory.”

“Some of them are poisonous. Or explode. Or… Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I was just rethinking your entire education.” She pulled her knife out of vampire number two, then swung him over her shoulder. “I’m not sure I want you handling explosives, magical or otherwise.”

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