Page 51

No, not debris. Air particles. Because of Kieran, I could see air magic now.

The lack of oxygen hazed my brain and slowed my thoughts. The air particles hovered, lengthening, turning into spikes. My heart raged. My chest struggled for air. Black blotches clouded my vision.

A dark chuckle drifted from the red-haired man. The air daggers trembled, before raining down.

38

Alexis

The ground rumbled. The spikes of air above me stopped dead, one foot away, before dissipating entirely. The bands around my body loosened and peeled back.

Kieran stalked into the yard, his magic terrible and humbling. The ground quaked now, and his power electrified the surroundings. Swirls of light danced through the air—a stark contrast to the rage masking his expression. Clouds crawled into the sky above us and heavy fog drifted in, swirling around the yard in angry black-gray swirls.

He was ready to unleash the full power of a Demigod.

He stopped by my side, his heavy boots trampling the ground. His stormy eyes dipped, his gaze meeting mine before drifting over my body.

“Are you okay?” he asked, and his rough voice sent a thrill through me, fear from a primal sense of his extreme danger, and intense relief because he was on my side.

“Yes,” I gushed, even though my lungs still burned from the near miss, I was lying in a pile of death, and was sore from head to toe. But now that he was here, yes, I was okay. More than okay.

He looked up and squared those muscular shoulders, facing the cowering redhead at the other end of the yard. Air whipped around us. Pressure shoved down from the sky, almost solid it was so powerful. Confidence and authority radiated out from his robust frame.

“You dare attack a woman under my protection?” His voice was liquid steel.

The redhead’s face paled, even his freckles losing color. He sank down to his knees and threw up his hands. “I’m sorry, sir,” he bleated before clasping his fingers together. “I’m sorry! I didn’t know. She attacked us. I was only—”

“Enough,” Kieran barked. A surge of power sliced through my chest, rattling my rib cage and jiggling my soul deep in my body.

That was my power! How the hell could he use my power when I couldn’t even properly use it?

The redhead clutched at his chest and gagged, sinking to the ground. “What…” He gulped, clearly drowning in fear. “What was…”

Without another word, Kieran turned and bent, scooping me up and hugging me close.

“Wait...Bria!” I twisted in his arms, trying to see her. My body screamed in protest, the lumps and bruises from being flung and rolled pounding pain.

“She’s alive. I can feel the strength of her magic. She’ll be taken care of,” Kieran said softly, leaving the redhead cowering in our wake as he carried me down the side of the house to the street. His warmth coated me and his strong arms held me tight.

I melted in his arms. I couldn’t help it. My head touched down on his shoulder and I breathed in his familiar smell, salty sea foam and chocolate. Power moved within me, and our magic twisted tighter together.

“Secure them,” Kieran said, and I lifted my head to see who he was talking to. Thane, Zorn, and Donovan stepped forward. “The air elemental is conscious but subdued. He won’t be a problem. Bria is down.”

Zorn stalked forward, his face expressionless but his eyes tight. He held out a phone as he went by, not glancing my way.

“Oh.” I reached for it gingerly, noticing a bad gash on my hand. I sure hoped that wasn’t from the exposed bone of that dead person. “I must’ve dropped it.”

Thane followed Zorn, and Donovan fell in behind them. The other three of the Six stood out near the cars, their feet planted and eyes hard.

“You must’ve,” Kieran said, slowing halfway through the yard but not turning, still facing the street. His body stiffened. “Do spirits normally look like that?”

I blinked stupidly for a moment. “You can see spirits now?”

“Yes. Do they normally look like the people in that house?” He turned a little, indicating what he was talking about.

I was still blinking stupidly, but he shifted me enough so I could see through the door. John still stood there, looking out. Probably wondering what was going on. His face was lanced and blackened, and new gashes marred his sides. He must’ve sensed the weakening of the walls and tried to break out of the house with everything he had. The air infused with spirit magic had kept him at bay.

Behind him, a woman wailed in agony. She sprinted away, before sprinting back, tearing at her hair. A man wandered past, walking awkwardly and missing half of his head.

“No, they don’t. Those spirits are being physically and mentally tortured. None of the other traps I’ve seen do this, though I might not have seen them all.”

He nodded and then turned to look at John in the doorway. “Valens is responsible for keeping you here. Alexis”—he hefted me a little—“will be responsible for your freedom. Should you be willing to stay, to help take Valens down, you’re welcome to.”

“One day of seeing spirits and already you’re enlisting them to your agenda,” I murmured, grinning and not sure why. “Except they can’t do much besides close a door or two, and cause a fright.”

“That’s why we have Bria to put them in bodies. More the merrier.” He shifted away from the door, but before he could take a step, John called out, “I’ll fight.”

Kieran paused.

“I’ll fight,” someone else screamed.

“Fight!” Someone yelled.

“But you won’t want everyone who applies,” John said in a dry voice. “I can weed them out for you.”

I huffed out a laugh as Kieran turned back to nod in approval.

Zorn jogged from the side of the house with Bria’s limp body in his arms. Her head lolled against his shoulder with blood dripping down her face.

“Broken nose,” Zorn said as he passed. “Unconscious but vitals are stable.”

Kieran nodded, watching Zorn hurry her to a car and delicately tuck her inside.

“Do you want me to strip the spirit trap away now, or wait…” I let my voice trail away as Zorn sat into the driver’s seat.

Kieran looked down at me, his gaze focusing on my lips. “Do you have the energy?”

I laughed again. “I feel like shit, but energy is one thing I have in abundance. Every time I yank a spirit out of a body, I get a rush. If I thought about it a little harder, it would probably be gross, but…”

He nodded, giving me the go-ahead, as he said, “You’ve been ripping spirits out of bodies?”

I dropped my head again, feeling the buzz from the house, weaker now than just a couple days ago. The Line pulsed around me, offering limitless power for me to borrow. And then something amazing happened.

“Put me down,” I said, straining away from Kieran.

Now that I looked more closely, I could just barely make out the air magic draped over the house, running along the walls and collecting at the bottom. Within it, drifting through the air currents, was the power I recognized and could now easily see, swirling and throbbing through the air.

Kieran was using some of my magic, and he’d gifted me with some of his.

Or I’d gifted him and forced a trade. Either way…

“Wash away that air, Kieran,” I said. “You can see the air drape, I take it?”

“Yes,” he said, turning to it more firmly. “The one at the government building disappears the day after they bolster it, but they must’ve made this one ten times stronger. It’s still visible.”

With a flick of his hand, the magic covering the house peeled away in places. Parts disintegrated, but the spirit magic kept it mostly stuck together.

“Huh,” I said, eating through that spirit. With a rush, the air magic continued to disintegrate until it was gone.

“He wouldn’t have been able to make a spirit trap without the air elemental,” I said, feeling the pulse of the Line around me, beckoning to the newly freed spirits. “He needed a way to string all the parts together.”

John looked up at the frame of the door before directing his gaze to me again. He took a purposeful step, crossing the threshold. Then another, his face grim.

“Let’s get out of here before they attach themselves to us…” I murmured.

John nodded at me, then directed his words to Kieran. “I need to check on some things. To look around. Where should I report back?”

I put my hand on Kieran’s arm, leaning hard. My back throbbed. I’d clearly tweaked it in my unplanned series of somersaults.

“Report back here,” Kieran said, his voice smooth and authoritative. He was born to lead. “As soon as the rest of the magic dissipates, there will be plenty of places for you to stay. I’ll return with instructions.”

John nodded before his body vanished. Spirits poured out of the house, looking around in wonder. Gazing at me in either hostility (because their minds were gone) or devotion.

“Let’s go…” I tapped Kieran’s arm. “Come on, donkey. Pick me up. Let’s go.”

“It’s a sweeter gesture when it’s my idea,” Kieran said dryly, doing as I said. He turned, stalking toward the cluster of vehicles haphazardly parked in the street. Instead of choosing his, he nodded at Jack, who stood in front of the Range Rover Bria had been driving earlier.

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