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I hid it easily. I was used to being the least powerful person in the room, whether in the magical world or among non-magical Chesters, people who thought magical people should all be burned at the stake like in old days.

“Hey,” I said, stalling at the kitchen entrance. “Almost ready.”

Frank, the front yard poltergeist who stood behind Zorn with a puffed-out chest, nodded. Clearly he thought I was talking to him.

“They’ve got the girl fighting, did you know that?” Frank asked, stepping closer to Zorn as though they were buddies. A look of unease crossed Zorn’s face. He couldn’t see Frank, but he could feel his presence. It was a disconcerting feeling if you weren’t used to it. “Girls fighting! Imagine that.”

“I know,” I said, stepping into the kitchen to grab my water bottle out of the fridge. “She’s been training all week.”

“What?” Mordecai asked, sagged against the counter with both hands wrapped around a glass of water. He was one year older than Daisy, and used to be just as skinny. After a single week of training, the muscles in his arms were more defined and a spark of confidence burned brightly in his light hazel eyes. The training, given for free by members of the Six, was really improving him, both physically and mentally.

Just another way Kieran had wormed into my life, improving it for the better. He had a good game, I’d give him that.

The cunning bastard.

“Frank,” I said by way of explanation, rolling my eyes and heading back toward the door.

“You’ve got to put a stop to that nonsense,” Frank said, now edging around Zorn to get closer to the door.

I crossed the entryway to grab my chief prize, a Burberry medium buckle tote, in pink! It was the only piece of fashion I owned, given as payment for speaking to Kieran’s deceased mother, something the other Ghost Whisperers he’d hired hadn’t been able to do. I prized it above all other inanimate objects. It spoke of lavish lifestyles, classy people, and expensive vacations. And it was mine!

“Women shouldn’t be fighting like men! It’s unseemly,” Frank went on, shoving himself in front of Zorn.

“Women can do whatever they damn well please,” I told Frank, slipping the fantastic bag onto my shoulder, admiring its weight. A smile crept up my face, my annoyance at Frank drifting away.

I was wearing a Burberry. A Burberry! First-tier fashion rested on my arm. My mother was probably turning over in her grave with envy.

“A woman’s place is in the home, looking after the children,” Frank returned. Zorn glanced around him, and though he was a hardened man who seemed immune to danger…he took a giant step back.

“She doesn’t have any children,” I told Frank, filing Zorn’s weakness away.

“Then she should be seeing to her studies and helping you around the house.”

“Frank, may I remind you that your views of the world are out of date. You know, given that you’re dead.” His expression soured at my words. He thought pointing out his lack of an earthly body was a low blow. Luckily, I didn’t much care. “If Daisy wants to learn to fight, she can.”

“Is that ghost telling Lexi that I shouldn’t be allowed to train with you?” I heard Daisy say incredulously. She must’ve gotten a nod because she went on. “For the first time in my life, I wish I could see that miserable sonuvabitch.” She raised her voice. “Tell him that I just beat Mordecai in two out of three fights. Girls can not only fight, but when trained correctly, they can fight damn well. Actually, just banish that miserable bastard.”

“I said you could fight, not swear, Daisy,” I berated.

“You only win because you fight dirty,” Mordecai said.

“You’re bigger, getting stronger every day, and a guy. Of course I fight dirty, you donkey. If I didn’t, you’d wipe the floor with me. Do you think enemies are all a lovely bunch of fluffy unicorns who care about rules? The real world is a shitty place, Mordecai. A real shitty place. There is no place for morals when you’re fighting for your life, there is only staying alive.”

Daisy had been in and out of the non-magical orphanage and foster care system since she was little, exposed to horrors I couldn’t even imagine. Her self-proclaimed miracle was me finding her on the streets and taking her in. She claimed she was living her dream—a fact that made my heart squish with both happiness and sadness. She was a bright, loyal kid with so much to offer. She deserved more than the half-life I was able to provide.

I took a deep breath and sucked it up. This new job would hopefully remedy that a little. With more money, I could buy them things most people took for granted. Like heating.

“It’s just practice,” Mordecai mumbled.

“It’s never just practice,” Daisy returned.

“Don’t mind her,” I told Zorn. I glared at Frank, who wisely backed away to give me room. He didn’t like when I forced him. “The practices have amped her up a little.”

Zorn turned sideways so I could pass, his expression thoughtful. “She’s correct. She’s what, fourteen?”

“Fourteen going on fifty, yeah.” I shut the door behind me and motioned for Zorn to lead the way.

He swept his hand toward the sidewalk. “Ladies first.”

I tried to hide a pleased smile. I’d been called an awful lot of things in my life, but lady was seldom one of them. The suit was a winner. Or maybe it was the Burberry…

Jack, the member of the Six who cooked for us the most, waited off to the side with his enormous arms glistening in the sunlight. His hands were braced on his hips and his sculpted chest rose and fell with deep breaths.

“How is the girl doing?” Zorn asked him as we passed.

I frowned. Zorn didn’t usually take an interest in the kids. He was the only one of the Six who never helped them train.

Jack’s eyebrows lifted and a grin lit his face. “She’s a feisty little cheat. You teach her something, and she somehow finds a way to twist it into a new move that you”—he held up his thumb—“didn’t see coming, and”—he held up his first finger—“didn’t realize would hurt so much. She’s a firecracker.”

Zorn looked back at the closed front door, the small crease between his brows the only indication he was thinking and not powering down like a robot.

“What?” I asked.

As if coming out of a trance, he shifted his gaze to me. His expression wiped clear before hardening. “Let’s go. We’ll be late.”

Without another word, he held out a set of car keys before stalking toward a black BMW parked behind my rusty old Honda.

“Just look at her, all sweaty and—she looks like a drowned rat,” Frank said as Daisy led Mordecai out of the front door.

“Frank, can it, will ya?”

“Is he still talking about me?” Daisy planted her fists on her hips. “I wish I had the power to banish him. He’d be gone so fast…”

Zorn looked at her while standing next to the Beemer with the keys held out. He didn’t say a word.

“No wonder Daisy calls you a zombie,” I said to Zorn. I snapped my fingers at him. When that didn’t yield a response, I pushed the keys back toward his body. “You can drive. Let’s go.”

Impatience crossed his features. He jingled the keys. “This is your car. It’s a signing bonus for a high-level contract. Demigod Kieran must uphold his reputation.”

“Oh my God, what did he just say?” Daisy stalked forward, fatigue draining away.

Mordecai followed. “But you haven’t signed anything yet. And he knows you like designer labels. This might be another attempt at a leash, Alexis. He’s good at manipulation.”

“Yours isn’t even a high-level contract,” Daisy said, crossing her arms over her chest. “For him, it’s mediocre, at best. What’s his game, here? Is he trying to bamboozle you with this freaking awesome car he has to know we’d all love?”

“All good insights and questions.” I pushed Zorn’s hand again. “Let’s hold off until I sign the contract, mmkay? We can easily write in something that denotes a company car. One that actually fits in around here. Because I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this isn’t a nice neighborhood. A car like this will stick out.”

“Guys popping in and out of bushes sticks out,” Frank mumbled, looking over the car.

He did have a point. People probably thought I was a drug dealer. The car wouldn’t help.

“Come on, we can go in my car.” I ticked my head at the Honda.

Disgust crossed Zorn’s face. “I’m not riding in that.”

“Oh well…” Daisy dropped her hands. “Look at you, Mr. Fancy Pants, in your high-dollar suit and your ‘I’ll cut a bitch’ eyes. Too good for your origins, huh?”

Zorn zeroed in on her again, and while many would’ve flinched under that flat stare filled with malice, she didn’t so much as blink. Apparently, she had pieced together more about him than I’d ever tried to.

He snapped the keys into a newly closed fist and turned toward the BMW. “I’ll drive.”

“You could’ve saved us the argument and driven in the first place.” I winked at the kids and reached for the door handle.

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