Mercenary Magic Page 55

“You invaded my home.”

“I see. I make you lose all sense of reality. Isn’t that what you said?”

She glared at him and imagined his hair on fire.

“If she actually said that to you, she must really like you,” Riley told him. “Sera doesn’t get emotional over just anyone. Though there was that one guy…Zachary, wasn’t it?”

“I didn’t get emotional over him. I planted magic bamboo on his front lawn.”

Magic bamboo was just like normal bamboo—except it grew a few thousand times faster.

“She did it in the middle of the night,” said Riley. “By morning, his lawn was so overgrown with the stuff that he couldn’t open his front door. He had to climb out of a second story window to escape.”

“Magic bamboo is a heavily controlled magical species. You need a special license to buy it. How did you get your hands on something like that?” Kai asked her.

Sera held up her hand before Riley could answer. “Don’t tell him. If he knew, he’d feel obligated to report it to his colleagues on the Magic Council.”

“I haven’t told them about your magic,” said Kai.

“Yet. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop,” Sera replied.

“I don’t drop shoes,” he told her. “I throw them.”

“Of that I have no doubt. You probably set them on fire first too.”

“Naturally.” He smirked at her. “I like making things burn.”

The words smacked against her—her own words, ones she’d spoken while drunk on magic back in the burning tower. It was a reminder that she’d come too far. She’d allowed her magic out, and now she was having a hard time pushing it back down again. And no matter what she said, it wasn’t just because of Kai. He rubbed away at her control more than anyone else, but even when he wasn’t around, it was a constant struggle to keep her magic in check. It had taken on a life of its own, a wild and glorious and devastating life.

Maybe that’s why the Dragon Born had all been killed. Maybe they really did become monsters. But she couldn’t exactly go digging for answers because that would mean admitting what she was—and facing punishment.

“Tell me about this Zachary. Did you sleep with him?” Kai’s tone was almost clinical, as though he were asking her to describe a foot fungus.

“First of all, that’s none of your business,” she said. “And second of all, yuck!”

“Good.”

“He used to work for Mayhem too. One day, he decided it was his mission in life to annoy Sera. Out of the blue, of course.” Riley grabbed a pizza slice from the box. “Or so Sera claims.”

She watched a glob of hot cheese dangle precariously off the tip. “Are you going to eat that?” she asked Riley.

“Yeah, but there’s more. If you sit down with us, we’ll even share it with you.”

Sera looked pointedly at Kai.

“You’re not kicking him out. He’s my friend, and he saved your life.” Riley nodded. “That’s right. He told me everything about your grand adventure fighting a cult of insane mages.”

Sera hoped Kai hadn’t told him everything. Her brother really didn’t need to know that she and Kai had made out on top of his desk. Sera didn’t even need to know that. Or remember it. Or whatever.

“Actually,” Kai said, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “Sera and I saved each other.”

“Fine,” she sighed. “I’ll just go to bed then.”

“Are you sure? We saved a whole pizza just for you,” Kai said.

She stopped mid-stride and pivoted around. “Show me.”

He held up a box from Wizard House Pizza, and her hunger returned with a vengeance. She felt her feet walking toward it. The promise of pizza had a special magic of its own, a magic aided by a long and exhausting day spent chasing harpies. Hunger battled it out with her resolution not to go anywhere near that man.

Hunger won.

Sera plopped down on the sofa between Riley and Kai, knowing she’d regret this. Just not as much as she’d regret it with an empty stomach. The dragon handed over the pizza box.

“It’s still warm,” she said in surprise.

“He magicked it,” Riley told her. “Some sort of slow-burn fire spell.”

She looked at Kai. “You magicked my pizza to stay warm?”

“Is that a problem?”

“Only if you changed the taste.”

“It should taste the same.”

“No problem then.” She gave the pizza box a loving pat.

Riley snickered. “Careful, Kai. She might decide you’re worth keeping around after all.”

“Hmm.”

Sera was about to open the box, when the doorbell rang. She looked at the door and sighed.

“I’ll get it,” Riley offered.

“No, I’ll do it.” With her luck, it was vampires. Or harpies. She passed him the box. “Just keep your paws off my pizza while I’m gone.”

Sera walked down the hall, the pleasant scent of dough and cheese calling out to her, begging her to return. Whoever had interrupted her date with the pizza had better already be dead—or they soon would be.

She opened the door to find a man in a smart suit standing outside. He didn’t smell dead, but his magic had a potent pinecone-like smell. It was obvious even under the thick layer of spicy aftershave he wore. A mage. Oh, goody.

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