He lifted his hand and called the fog, bringing it down in thick, fluffy sheets, a fog bank settling inland. It wouldn’t be an abnormal occurrence out here.
Once visibility cut down, he wove air and dropped a thicker layer of fog beyond the small battle. That would keep people from wandering in and catching an eyeful, or worse, taking video.
If they hadn’t already.
Mordecai stepped away from the limp body of Green, his eyes huge. “Did I do that?”
“No. I did that,” Alexis said with a pale face. “I’m going to try and stuff him back in.”
Green’s spirit shook before reaching forward and grabbed an invisible line connecting him to Alexis. His spirit turned more translucent as he jutted toward her.
“Ew, no!” She waved her hands in the air before shivering. His spirit went flying, as though she’d flung him through the air. He landed on two wolves’ bodies before rolling to a stop.
“I said not to latch on to the connection!” she yelled after him, her face screwed up in disgust. “That was your fault, and now look. You’re all the way over there, wasting precious time.”
“What’s happening?” Mordecai and Thane asked at the same time.
“Growing pains,” Kieran said, and started forward. Bria was already moving.
“Did you rip his soul out of his body?” Bria unslung a camo backpack from her shoulder, tiptoed through the downed bodies, and knelt by Alexis’s side. “’Cause we can just shove him back in. Remember me teaching you that? No problem, remember?”
“Yeah, but will he come back to life as though nothing has happened?” Alexis blinked as she finally noticed the silence and lack of movement of those around her. Her expression fell. “Oh God, what did I do now?”
“It was me,” Kieran said quietly, nearly at her side. “I finished the job. We needed to get this cleaned up so we can get moving. They aren’t dead.”
She jumped and her head jerked up. A look of supreme relief crossed her face and a gorgeous smile curved her lips. “Hi,” she said, her voice breathy. “I didn’t notice you there.”
“Clearly,” he said teasingly. Fire started in his middle and rose through him. Reaching Alexis, he touched her back, his attention wholly focused on her, and on the place where their two souls met and entwined, becoming one. “You okay?”
She shrugged with one shoulder. “I am, but he’s not.”
Bria bent down next to her and dug into her bag. “Let’s see what’s happening. We can’t all see spirits.”
But Kieran could. Green’s spirit stood slowly, panic consuming his expression as his gaze lingered on his unmoving physical body. He walked to it, slowly, as though in a dream.
“I’ve accidentally broken the prongs in his spirit box,” Alexis said softly, watching him make his way back. “I can shove him back in, and I’m pretty sure I can figure out how to make his spirit box return to normal, but those prongs…” With no warning, her eyes lost focus, and her body went completely still.
Kieran felt that same strange blankness through the soul connection.
“She did this before.” Mordecai moved to her side. “Just went stalk still. Like she was in a trance. It seemed to help her, last time. We were under siege, and then everyone started dropping.”
“Here we go.” Bria rolled her thumb over the top of her lighter, then pressed the flame to a stub of incense. Red smoke curled up through the thick tendrils of fog. “The fog is not awesome.”
Kieran flicked his hand and sent the moisture higher, blanketing them but not invading their space.
“Better,” Bria said, looking around.
A strange absence could be seen in the gathering red smoke, like a person wearing black Spandex whose outline was fuzzy. It bent over Green’s body, and Kieran got the distinct impression its arm reached into Green’s chest.
“What in the holy fuck…” Bria’s voice drifted away, her eyes widening as she watched the shape. “What is that? I can’t feel a soul. Is it a weak spirit or something?”
“No.” Kieran shook his head. “At least, it’s not like any spirit I’ve ever seen. Though…that’s not really saying much.”
“Alexis?” Bria’s gaze flicked up, but if Alexis heard her, she didn’t acknowledge it.
He ran his hand down her back, comforted by her warmth. “Is it a deep trance?”
Bria shrugged, back to watching the figure bending over Green. Green’s spirit had nearly reached his body, his expression urgent, as though he knew time was running out. “Quite possibly. She figures out the most stuff when she lets herself hang around in a trance for a while.” Brow furrowed, Bria shook her head slowly. “I’ve never seen or felt anything like this. It’s like…a blank patch in reality.”
Kieran shifted from side to side, that strange feeling of absence between them gnawing on his nerves.
“Sir.” Zorn stepped through the wolves’ bodies. “We need to make some decisions and wrap this up. At this rate, we’ll be noticed. It’s a miracle we haven’t been already.”
Green’s spirit reached his body and stared down at it. “I’m dying.” His expression heated and he zeroed in on Alexis. “You filthy, soul-stealing bitch.”
Green’s spirit darted at her. Kieran reacted without thought. He sent a blast of his power, laced with Alexis’s magic, through the center of Green’s spirit. It sent the spirit staggering before jerking him to a stop and keeping him put.
The figure within the smoke—the hazy, blurred form—jerked up, and Kieran got the strangest sensation that it was looking directly at him. In a moment, Alexis startled, the sensation of her slamming back into him like it had earlier. The form blurred even more before dissipating entirely, and Kieran took a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
“So it is your mark, huh, Junior?” Green spat, his face twisted in rage. “Does Daddy know, I wonder? We all know he’s not the romantic type.”
Kieran didn’t have time to digest what Green was saying. His attention was on Alexis as she sucked in a deep breath. She blinked, and the haze cleared from her eyes—she was present in a way she hadn’t been a moment before.
“I can put his spirit back,” she said in a rush. “He—or it?—showed me. In that weird plane. I theoretically know how, at any rate. It seemed so easy.”
“Who showed you?” Bria asked. “Where?”
“He said he’s dying,” Kieran said.
Alexis’s magic slid across his, deliciously intimate and powerful, and his grip on Green was flicked away.
“He is,” she said. “His body is, at any rate. There’s a small transition time after a soul leaves. Usually, the body is dying, so the spirit can’t go back. But if the body’s healthy, I think the soul can be locked back in, however fragile the docking, and the person can go on living.” She snapped, urgency riding her words. “It’s like those people who have near-death experiences. You know, the ones who remember hovering above their own bodies or seeing a light at the end of the tunnel? Their bodies were mended enough to keep on trucking, and their souls hadn’t given up. They were able to re-forge the connection.” She blinked a few times in confusion. “Or maybe someone did it for them…” She shook her head and waved it away. “I don’t know. This afternoon is super confusing. Bottom line, I think I can fix him.”
“Do it,” Kieran said before turning to Zorn. He sent another pulse of magic out to keep the downed shifters put. “But his reign of terror ends today. Get these shifters into a holding pen. Green has just lost his army.”
“Okay. Okay, okay.” Alexis braced like she was about to wrestle. “All I have to do—”
“You better make this right, you filthy whore,” Green swore.
Kieran bit his tongue, barely keeping himself from cutting Green down a second time. Alexis needed to practice her magic, and in case all didn’t go as planned, she had the perfect guinea pig.
“I bet you talk about women like that because you can’t get any for free,” Alexis murmured, yanking him into the air before stuffing him unceremoniously back into his skin. “You probably use your power to force them, you disgusting creep.”
“Which is why it’s so enjoyable to feel you manhandling his spirit.” Bria rested her chin on her fist and wafted the smoke more thoroughly over Green’s body.
Alexis’s face closed down in concentration.
Zorn stepped closer. “I re-routed Henry to grab a van. He’s not far out. Half-hour, tops. Daisy is working on re-directing people who want to get back here, but a delivery truck needs to unload.”
“Just need to…” Alexis wiped her forehead while bending over the body of Green, not unlike that blurry figure that had appeared in the negative space of Bria’s fog. “Two more…” She swore softly. “That one’s fucked. My bad. That should be okay, though. The rest look good.”
“What are you doing?” Bria asked, yanking up the sleeve of her shirt. Goosebumps covered her skin.