Jack gave me a sour expression before opening the back door.
“Not cool, stealing a man’s ride,” he murmured as Kieran gently set me inside.
“I thought you drove a BMW like mine?” I said.
“That’s the work car. This is my baby. I don’t appreciate when it goes missing…”
“I didn’t know,” I said, putting up my hands. “I swear. I suspected it was stolen, but I didn’t ask in case it got called in. Ignorance is bliss.”
Kieran tossed his keys to Boman before crossing around the back and getting in next to me. Jack closed my door and sat in the driver’s seat.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Kieran asked me as we got underway, his voice so soft, his eyes softer. He took my hand.
“I’m sore, but I’ll heal.” I dropped my phone on my lap and swallowed. Might as well just get this over with. “How’d you find me?”
Kieran held my gaze for a quiet moment, before tapping the center of his chest. “When you shared your magic with me, you planted a homing device. If I think about you hard enough…I simply need to follow the ache until it quiets. And there you are.”
Butterflies tickled my belly. I sucked in a deep breath, trying to still the nervous tremors. “I didn’t mean to do that. I mean…I might’ve, but it wasn’t a conscious effort. It just…happened.”
He nodded, not commenting.
“I’ll find a way to undo it. I’m sure I can. I just have to…”
His head was already shaking.
Silence descended on the SUV as I met his inviting gaze and held it. I felt the electricity flowing through his limbs and supercharging mine. His power, so mighty, beyond any of the classes and in a league of its own. He had more power over air than an actual air elemental. He could play the tides like a guitar, and the seas like his personal playground.
He was a Demigod, descended from one of the Power Three, and he was sitting in the back of a Range Rover, holding my hand. Holding my focus in a way no other man ever had.
Slowly, I let myself feel the connection between us, thick and solid, attaching the middle of my person to the middle of his. Attaching my soul…to his. Our souls oozed toward each other and met in the middle, where our magic mingled and flowered. I didn’t have the power he did, but I could use some of his magic, and he mine.
Except he used mine a lot better than I did.
“I choked back there,” I admitted, a tiny flower of fear budding within me. “I was in the thick of it, and I couldn’t save myself.”
“Didn’t you rip souls out of bodies?” he asked quietly.
“Yeah, but they were dead people’s bodies. The souls weren’t attached. That was easy.”
He tapped the center of his chest, indicating what I’d done to his soul.
“Yes, okay, but you were open to that,” I said, my face heating. “That’s different. And I’ll undo it, I promise. Somehow…”
“You have had less than a week of training, Lexi.” He traced my jaw with his thumb. “You barely know your magic, you barely know the world of magic, and you don’t at all know how magical people fight. And yet, you littered the streets with bodies and took down a class-four Necromancer who showed some exceptional insight and experience. You did more than anyone could possibly have hoped.”
I let out a deep breath and grimaced. “Then you’re not mad at me?”
A grin tickled his full, kissable lips. “I’m livid. You lied to me, ignored my calls, put yourself into danger, and nearly got yourself killed. If I hadn’t figured out how to track you, you’d be dead.”
My heart amped up and a cold sweat popped out on my forehead. With a speech like that, his gorgeous smirk confused matters.
“But you look too pathetic to punish,” he said finally. “It’ll have to wait.”
“What’s up, invalid?” Daisy closed the door and stopped in the entryway, her hands braced on her hips and dirt and grime marring her light blue shirt.
I sat up on the couch, only grimacing a little. Nearly a week had passed since that air elemental had made a plastic bag out of me and rolled me across the yard, and still I had aches and pains. I felt a lot older than my twenty-five years, and in desperate need of some physical fitness.
Thankfully for me, and not thankfully for her, Bria was also sore as hell, with a black-and-blue face and out-of-shape nose, and didn’t want to think about training until she could control her rage over losing to an air elemental one class lower on the power scale than her.
Once we were both healed, I had a feeling she’d kick my ass to get into gear. I was not looking forward to it.
“Just living the dream,” I said, not bothering to comment on the state of her shirt. Zorn was still training her every day. He’d probably had her crawling through the sewers on her belly or something.
“You going to watch Mordie’s first change?” She turned toward the kitchen.
A wash of nervousness stole my breath. I clenched my teeth. Jack had assured me that Mordecai would be fine. Mordecai’s body was more than strong enough. His constitution was better still. He was primed, he was ready, and he had someone with experience to talk him through it. Sure, Jack couldn’t actually change with him, being that he was an enormous sea creature, but his knowledge was enough.
Or so he said.
Still. So much could go wrong with a shifter’s first change. So much. I was afraid to lose Mordecai all over again.
“Yes. Are they getting close?” I asked, lugging myself off of the couch.
“Yeah. Fifteen minutes.” The faucet handle squeaked as she turned it. Clear water filled her glass. She leaned her butt against the counter and turned toward me. “Have you heard from that stalking Demigod?”
A blast of emotion stole through me: warmth from thinking about him, passion from the memory of his touch, longing because I hadn’t seen him since he’d deposited me in my bed after saving my life, and nervousness that the kids somehow knew we’d spent every night chatting via back-and-forth texts.
I’d thoroughly finished my job this time. I’d found the spirit trappers, and, in a roundabout way, delivered them into the hands of my ex-boss. Kieran knew all the various places and items they’d been paid to maintain traps on, and now that they were no longer making their rounds, those traps would disintegrate and release the trapped souls.
My part in all of this was done. Well and truly done.
Except, Valens would soon realize what was going on—that his employees were not doing their job. He’d want to know why, and given his suspicious nature, he’d almost certainly expect foul play. This was the calm before the storm. A storm Kieran did not want me to be a part of. That my kids did not want me to be a part of. That I’d be stupid to be a part of…
“Nope,” I lied, stretching my arms so as to hide my burning face. I hadn’t gotten any better at lying to them.
“Hmm.” Her eyes narrowed. “So he didn’t tell you why he has one of his Six watching the house again?”
“He doesn’t have to. He doesn’t trust me to stay put.”
She gulped her water, set the glass on the counter, and pushed forward. “Fair enough.”
“No, no, no.” I pointed at the glass. “Put that in the dishwasher.”
Tired of doing dishes, the guys had installed a dishwasher. They were still cooking every night. Well, on a rotating schedule—one was doing the cooking, and the rest showed up to eat. Daisy and Mordecai didn’t complain, which made me wonder if they were still so determined to be rid of Kieran and all the perks that went with having him in our lives.
Daisy rolled her eyes before turning back.
A moment later, I hesitated at the front door, taking a deep breath before pulling it open. A collection of people stood on my green-brown grass and along the sidewalk in front of my house. One nutter hung out in the middle of the street, grinning manically at an oncoming car that wouldn’t be slowing.
“They won’t leave,” Frank said, standing just off my porch, his back to the house. “Even if I strong-arm them off of your property, which I have done, they just come back. They keep coming back.”
I lifted my eyebrows and sighed. “Yeah. Now you know how I feel.”
Some of the spirits I’d released from the ghost house had somehow attached themselves to me after all. Not just the devoted ones, either. I had a couple surly bastards who hung around, scowling at everyone they saw. I was now their home base, but since they couldn’t get in my house past the banishment magic I had up, they loitered outside. Most of them wanted to help me. Some were afraid to leave this plane. Still others didn’t know what was going on—they were just going with the flow and playing chicken with cars.
Soon I’d crack and banish them. I knew I would. But for now, while I didn’t know the score with Kieran, I tolerated it.
Mordecai stood in a cleared area at the side of the house, his shirt off and definition showing beneath his dark skin. The calories, his health, his shifter genes, and his hard work were paying off. And paying off quickly. His parents had passed down some great genetics…except for the little issue that had nearly killed him.
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