I shrugged, the movement stiff. “When it comes to things like this, it’s one and the same.”
His gaze roamed my face before stopping on my lips. His smell drifted around me, salty sea foam, and rich, decadent chocolate. “Everything is as we agreed,” he said softly. “Except for the car. You will take it.”
“I don’t respond well to commands.”
His eyes sparkled. “Yes, you do. You just haven’t realized it yet.” He stepped over to one of the visitor chairs facing the desk, then lowered a large hand to its back as though preparing to pull it out. “Please, have a seat.”
I stalked forward, passing the chairs and walking around the desk, and took the large leather chair facing him.
“Thank you,” I said, clasping my hands on the desk and waiting for him to sit in the visitor seat.
Gaze rooted to mine, he slowly moved around the chair he’d been touching before sinking onto its cushion. “If you’ll just reach into the first drawer—”
Before he could finish, I opened the drawer on my right, expecting a folder. Instead, I saw office supplies.
“On the left,” he finished, laughter in his eyes. “I’m left-handed. I keep the important things on that side.”
“Obviously.” I sniffed. “I was just looking to see if my bag would fit.” It was a terrible cover, but I went with it anyway. “Too small.” I took my bag off my arm and set it on the bare desk. There wasn’t even a calendar on it.
Kieran leaned back and crossed an ankle over his knee. “High fashion suits you. It brings out your arrogance, which can be quite helpful in certain situations.”
“You would certainly know,” I mumbled, pulling open the top left drawer and breathing a small sigh of relief when I saw the file folder. It lay atop more office supplies. How much writing and paper-clipping did he expect me to do from this desk? “I was born for big things,” I said distractedly, placing the file folder on the desk and flipping it open.
“Yes, you were.”
Kieran’s suggestive tone drew my eyes to his. The depth of his stare, and its openness, made my heart flutter and sent tingles across my skin. I ripped my eyes away, not understanding the look or the tone, but knowing I’d better be careful because both threatened to suck me under and lose me to the tide.
“Right,” I said with a business savvy, can-do attitude. “Let’s see.” I scanned the various stipulations that Daisy had demanded I put in. Some of them I wouldn’t pay much attention to: working hours, overtime, and other logistical details. I hated schedules. But she’d want to see it all in writing, and since she’d taken such an interest in being Miss Business Manager, I would go with it. Other aspects of the deal were more to my interest. The bonus for quick completion was on point, as was the salary, ten percent higher than what he’d originally offered. Medical, retirement, donuts on Wednesday—all the things I’d been denied while working retail jobs for non-magical blowhards.
I tried to hide my smile. I really did. And failed miserably.
Then I saw something that made the smile slip. “What’s this…” I tapped a line. “Training is mandatory?” We’d talked about it, sure, but I hadn’t expected he’d enforce it.
“Yes.” Kieran steepled his fingers. “I have brought your true nature out into the open. My efforts to hide that information might fail. I am also using your services in a way my father will not be pleased with. In other words, I’m putting you in danger. It is my responsibility to protect you in every way I can. Obviously I have my guys guarding you and your home, but you need to learn how to protect yourself in the field—to get in touch with your surroundings and, most importantly, to use your magic.”
I bit my lip, fear biting into me like jagged teeth. I wasn’t sure I wanted to learn how to use my real magic. Everyone had heard the same horror stories about Spirit Walkers. Some vicious guy would walk through a war zone and rip souls from living people’s bodies. He’d then assume control of the spirit, and stuff them back in, using the person like a puppet. The act sounded harsh and brutal, and I didn’t know if I had it in me. I didn’t know if I wanted it in me.
“There is more to your magic than the horror stories you’ve heard, Alexis,” Kieran said, as though reading my mind. “Much more. Your magic isn’t evil. You aren’t evil. I’ll make sure you don’t fall into the hands of someone that would use you in that way. But the magic is a part of you, and you need to learn how to use it. If the worst should happen, heavens forbid, you will need everything in your arsenal to survive. Your magic will help you do that.”
I blew out a breath. “Do you even know anyone else who has magic like mine?”
“No. No one on earth, at present, has magic like yours. ” He tilted his head. “That we know of. Most of our knowledge about it comes from written record, rumor, or myth.”
Right. Until recently, he hadn’t known about me, either.
“But the Demigods of Hades…” I started.
“Have different powers. They can manipulate spirits, and they can travel beyond the Line into the spirit realm, but they cannot rip a spirit from its living body, like a Spirit Walker can.” He paused for a second before continuing. “That I have heard of. The last person with magic like yours was killed by Demigod Zander fifty years ago in England. The man was a puppet of the pope—a dark secret kept in the strictest confidence.”
“If it was so secret, how did they find out? And why did the Demigod kill him?”
“Zander killed the man because he was a high-profile assassin. It took a Demigod to finally bring him down. Zander learned of the man’s master because Demigods are ruthless, Alexis…” Goosebumps spread across my skin. Kieran was not excluding himself from that group. “Zander extracted the information by using his magic to torture the man. Or maybe to twist his brain. There are many ways.”
I barely stopped myself from pushing back from the desk, standing, and running—not striding, but fucking running—for the door.
“The man was an assassin, Alexis,” Kieran said, leaning forward in his chair. “You won’t be. In fact, you’re signing on to a rescue mission. You are already using your magic for good.”
“You choose how to use your magic. I’ll simply employ someone to show you how.”
“But if no one like me exists, how will I learn?”
Kieran leaned back again. “You’ll start with the basics, both in fighting and magic. You’re a type of Necromancer in your basic skill set, so you’ll learn rudimentary skills you would’ve been taught years ago had your initial assessment been legit. Once you’re set on the basics, we’ll decide on additional training.”
I nodded slowly. I did need the help. Even when it came to non-magical combat. Sure, I had a couple of years of martial arts training and a couple months of boxing, picked up when someone offered a poor girl some classes out of pity, but I hadn’t kept up the practice. If danger came my way right now, I was totally vulnerable. The kids wouldn’t tell me to push back on this one since it was in my best interest.
I blew out a breath. “Fine. But I’m not taking that car.”
“Your vehicle is a rust box waiting to die. If you need to get out of a situation fast, peddling the ground like Fred Flintstone won’t be conducive to staying alive.”
I arched one of my eyebrows indignantly. “I’ll have you know that that Honda is way more reliable than a BMW. It runs just fine, thank you very much, and it’s near impossible to kill.”
“How about speed? How many minutes does it take to get up to sixty? How much coughing and shaking does it do at a hundred?”
I gritted my teeth. Plenty of minutes and lots of shaking.
“And how does a BMW stand up to something like a Ferrari?” I asked. “Or are you telling me Valens’s car isn’t faster than the Beemer?”
Kieran shifted and his eyes glimmered. “My father has many cars, and some of them are faster, yes. But my father won’t be the one following you.” His expression turned somber and a vicious gleam replaced the amusement in his eyes. “He’ll leave that to his minions. Whom I will need to make disappear before they can tell him of your efforts. I would like to avoid that. Listen, Alexis…” He braced his hands on his knees. “You must know this is a fragile and precarious situation. It’s dangerous, to say the least. If you run into trouble, I’ll need to know about it immediately. Immediately. Do you understand?”
I nodded, the weight of the situation pressing on my shoulders.
“I will protect you, but we won’t be together at all times,” he went on. “I have cultivated a presence in certain areas of my father’s government that I need to maintain until the last possible moment. This is just the first step in a dangerous journey. I can’t let it interrupt my overall goal. If at all possible, I’d like you to get my mother across the Line without him knowing how it was done.”
I widened my eyes with the realization that Kieran wanted to free his mother, but he wouldn’t stop there. He intended to tear down his father. The Demigod in front of me sought vengeance against another Demigod, and if I fulfilled my task, I’d likely be the spark to ignite the war. A war that would be fought on home soil.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com