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“I can braid my power and spirit together to fuse the prongs back into place.” Alexis wiped her forehead again. “Then I just have to change the density of the spirit box back to normal, and we should be cooking with gas.”

Bria held her arm up to be appraised by Zorn, silently relaying the presence of a spirit in their midst. His second should’ve been off directing the guys, but instead he stood there, half turned, his attention on Alexis. He obviously wondered the same thing Kieran did—could she fix a soul she’d previously torn out of a body?

“She’s doing it,” Bria mouthed to him, her eyes wide and excited. “How did you figure all this out?” she asked Alexis.

“Let her work,” Zorn whispered.

But Alexis was straightening up, her face shiny with sweat and red from exhaustion.

“It’s like I slip into this other realm where time and a physical presence don’t belong,” she said, out of breath. “And there’s this…thing there. It’s like a person without being a person. Someone I do but don’t know.” She shook her head. “I can’t possibly explain it. It’s a feeling, more than anything. Hell, maybe it’s my subconscious. But this…thing showed me the strings connecting everyone, and then it showed me how to alter Green’s spirit box and re-connect the prongs. It was like…instruction without words. Then, kinda suddenly, I was knocked back into my body.”

“Riiiight,” Bria said.

Green jerked and his eyes fluttered. His mouth opened and he sucked in huge breath. His body convulsed.

“He’s going to change—”

A pulse of power cut Mordecai off. Green’s limbs shrank and his face elongated. Fur sprouted over his body.

His spirit popped out of his body again.

“Crap.” Alexis threw up her hands.

26

Alexis

“I think I know what went wrong.” Bria turned from the built-in grill next to the stove in my new kitchen. We’d had to steal most of the supplies from Kieran’s house since my shopping had been cut short.

The guys were dealing with the shifter mess I’d created, so Bria was on dinner duty. I hadn’t been allowed to cook for some reason, and given my afternoon, and my intense fatigue, I hadn’t argued.

I wearily sank into the stool at the island. Wind howled at the window behind me, the wooden shutters drawn closed against the darkness beyond. The waves crashed wildly against the cliffs in the distance. I dropped my face into my hands.

“I know what went wrong,” I said, my words muffled against my palms. “I’ve been thinking about it for the past three hours. Well…three and a half, if you count how long it took to get home from the store that severely disappointed my shopping appetite.”

The BBQ fork swung to the side. “Oh yeah?” Bria cocked a hip, something I now recognized as a signal she was thinking professionally.

“Yeah. I’ve been in and out of trances, I’ve been fiddling with my own spirit box—”

She sucked a breath through her teeth. “Until you get a firm handle on the whole situation, I wouldn’t suggest playing doctor on yourself. You’ll probably get marooned in the spirit realm, and Kieran will kill himself trying to drag you back out.”

I waved the comment away tiredly. “I was just feeling around in there. But I’m pretty sure I know what went wrong. I mean…” I gestured with my hand. “Besides the fact that I keep getting shooed away from the spirit realm by some very pushy entity without a freaking body. I think the Line has its own minions or something.”

Bria bent at the waist with a very intense look on her face. The black smoke billowing up behind her, caught by the hood over the stove, did not bode well for our meal. “I’m honestly not sure what to say. I’ve never heard of anything like that.”

“Yeah, well, here’s some more that you haven’t heard…”

I paused as Mordecai slouched in, clearly tired but emboldened by his success. After Will Green lost his soul for the second time, and everything slowed down, the guys had all patted Mordecai on the back and praised him for a job well done. Even Daisy had dropped her competitiveness and given him a beaming high-five. After so short a time, his training was really shining through.

I waited while he opened the fridge door and stared into the depths.

I lifted my eyebrows after a moment when he didn’t grab something.

I gritted my teeth when he shifted his weight and leaned on the door, still looking.

“Oh my God, how many times do I have to tell you?” I snapped. “Grab something and get out. You’re wasting electricity.”

He sighed, but reached for the milk.

“And don’t you dare drink out of the carton,” I added.

Bria frowned at me. “Since when is that a rule?”

There really were no words.

“Anyway,” I said as Mordecai moved to get a glass. “I did repair the prongs after a fashion, and they would’ve held in a normal person, but shifters…” I formed a ball with my fingers, having no easy way to explain this to someone who hadn’t magically seen and felt it. “When they shift, their spirit boxes magically change density. That’s the moment I can easily seep in and mess around. The entity showed me how I can mimic that in a non-shifter.” I dragged my lip through my teeth. “I’m pretty sure I can do it. Practice would really help, though. Because, I mean, I’d secured the prongs to Green’s spirit box, but not well enough to withstand those few moments when the box changed. So, when he started to shift…” I let my hands drift through the air.

“You killed him,” Bria surmised.

“Well…” I paused, remembering the fuming words Will’s spirit had spewed after being booted from his body for the second time. Kieran hadn’t even been able to shut him up. I’d had to shove him across the Line for some peace. “Yeah, but…”

“No, she didn’t,” Mordecai finally said as Daisy walked in with a ponytail on top of her head and a black exercise outfit. “I killed him. Alexis wouldn’t have done any of that if not for me.” His tone was bleaker than Green deserved.

“Well, yeah, but…” I squinted my eyes, thinking of a rebuttal he would buy.

“He killed himself,” Daisy said, opening the fridge door and staring into its depths.

“Oh my God, if I have to—”

“Grab and go,” Mordecai said over me urgently. “She’s in a bad mood.”

Daisy snatched out the orange juice container and slammed the fridge door.

“Apparently we’re not supposed to drink out of the carton anymore, either,” Bria said dryly, and rolled her eyes.

Daisy looked at Bria for a long beat, glanced at the orange juice carton in her hand, and then put the OJ back in the fridge. Smart girl that she was, she’d realized Bria’s backwash was probably in all of the cartons. She grabbed a glass and went to the faucet instead.

“He killed himself,” Daisy repeated, firmly entrenched in her fifty-year-old persona. She turned and leaned against the counter as Bria rolled a blackened hotdog off the grill. “He wrote his own death sentence the day he murdered Mordie’s parents. His pack should’ve taken him down long before now. And what is it Jack always tells you?” Daisy pointed at Mordecai, who was back to staring blankly. “If someone from one pack challenges a weaker member of another pack, the leader of the challenged pack can step in. Right?”

“The girl listens, I’ll give her that.” Bria nodded as she tore open a new package of hot dogs.

“I have to.” Daisy slurped down half her water before continuing. “I don’t have any magic. I need to figure out how magical people operate, learn their handicaps, and figure out the best time to attack. Jack has to repeat himself so often that it’s pretty easy to get shifter info.”

Mordecai’s brows lowered. “I need to write stuff down, you know that! He never tells me these things when I have a pen and paper on me.”

She put her hands out. “You’re a bodily learner, like most shifters, and I’m an auditory learner, like most awesome people. I’m not complaining. Your blockhead helps me out.” She raised her glass to him. “Cheers.”

The shining moment of sibling love had been nice while it lasted.

“I’m technically in his pack, though,” Mordecai said.

“Firstly…” Daisy gulped down the rest of her water. Rivulets ran down her chin and dripped onto the floor. My ire rose. “You weren’t in his pack because he tossed you out for dead. He exiled you. You would’ve had to fight to get back in. According to shifter code, or standards, or whatever, you were no longer part of that pack, the magical governing body’s paperwork be damned.”

“That sounds like Jack,” Bria said, rolling darkly scored hot dogs.

Daisy turned to refill her glass. “He said it when he was loading unconscious bodies into the van earlier.”

“Is that what he was muttering?” Bria pulled over a bag of buns. “You listen really closely.”

“To their every word, yeah. The Six are really powerful. Learning their secrets and weaknesses will put me above most of my competitors. Anyway, being that Alexis took him in, he was actually a part of Alexis’s pack, and she had the right to accept the challenge. But, if we go a step further, Kieran accepted Alexis as his beta—”

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