Read Magic in the Shadows Online

Authors: Devon Monk

Magic in the Shadows (10 page)

I looked away from the gargoyle. Zayvion walked my way. “Are you ready to go?”
“Yes.” I walked over to him. When I was near enough: “I think I might have broken the statue.”
Zayvion gave me a long look, decided I wasn’t lying, and followed me back to where I had been standing. He brushed the bushes away and peered into the darkness. “What statue?”
I moved up beside him and looked. Bushes, dirt, iron rod, broken chain. No statue. The soil where it had crouched just a moment ago looked scraped clean, tended, as if someone had run a rake over it. Or claws.
“There was a gargoyle,” I said. “Right there.”
“And you broke it?”
“I interrupted the feed of magic, I think. Through the chain.”
Zayvion touched the chain, frowned. “There is no magic here. Are you sure there was a statue?”
“Well, I touched it. And it touched me, so yeah, I’m pretty clear on that.”
He made an isn’t-that-interesting sound and brushed off his hands. “They’ll probably charge you for it,” he said. “I bet you reach over the velvet ropes at museums and fondle the statues there too.”
“Zayvion, this is serious.”
“Really? Why?”
“What if it’s loose?”
“Allie, they’re statues. Magic and art, yes. Alive, no. There’s probably a hydraulic lift under each statue so they can take them underground to do maintenance on them. I don’t think touching the chain could break the magic or the chain. Unless you have bare-handed stone-crushing abilities you haven’t told me about? No? Then I think it’s more a strange sense of timing.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“No.” He smiled at my look. “But if there’s a gargoyle loose in the city, I’m sure we’ll hear about it.”
“Ha-ha. Funny.”
He caught my hand. “Thank you. And for my encore, I’m going to take you home before you cause more trouble.”
“You call this trouble?”
“Yes.Yes, I do.” He put his arm around me, and I wrapped my arm around his waist.
“Then I’m not sure you’re going to be able to handle our second date,” I said.
“We’ll see, won’t we?” He pressed the palm of his hand against my lower back, and the warmth of mint spread out from where we touched.
I leaned into him a little more, enjoying him. Enjoying us. For as long as I could.
Chapter Four
ayvion walked me to my apartment door. We paused there, caught in the proverbial unspoken question of first dates: to kiss or not to kiss?
“I have company,” I said.
He nodded. “Would you like me to come by and take you to class tomorrow?”
“How very college of you, Jones. Does this mean we’re going steady?”
“Now who’s old-fashioned? And yes. Say, around five?” he asked.
I thought about it. I hadn’t told Maeve when I would stop by her place, but if she could do something about my dad in my head, then the sooner, the better. I pulled my journal out of my pocket and made a note.
“Make it one o’clock,” I said. I tucked the journal back in my pocket.
“I will.” He held both my hands in his. “So, this is good night, then.”
I switched my hold, my fingers around each of his, and leaned against my door. I tugged him close, until our bodies were almost touching. I didn’t let go of his hands.
“This,” I said, “maybe this doesn’t have to be good night.”
But Zayvion, damn him, eased back. He let go, took a step, out of sheer willpower or the knowledge that I would have gladly dragged him back, kissed him, taken him into my apartment and into my bed.
“Good night, Allie,” he said evenly.
I swallowed, finally found my voice. Maybe I was acting like an idiot. Pushing him away and trying to pull him close at the same time. “Night.”
He moved off a couple paces, walked toward the stairs, silent and sexy as always. Halfway down the hall, he paused. “Lose the key?”
Right. I was supposed to be going home. Not watching his very fine ass.
“No, no,” I said. “Found it.” I dug it out of my coat pocket and unlocked the door. Zayvion waited until I opened the door.
“See you tomorrow,” he said.
I didn’t trust my voice, so I opted to wave and just shut the door.
I glanced into the living room and guessed that Nola was on my couch, since her luggage was still leaning against one side of it.
I unzipped my boots, wanting to be out of the heels, and then padded off toward my bedroom.
“You should have invited him in,” Nola’s sleepy voice said from across the room.
“Trust me,” I said. “I tried.”
“You make falling in love look hard,” she muttered as she rolled over.
“Give it a whirl again one of these days,” I said. “Show me how easy it is.”
Nola snorted. “I already did it once. The right way. I don’t have to prove anything to you.”
I smiled. She couldn’t fool me. She and John had been crazy in love all through high school, and through the few years they had together before cancer took him. And even though I knew she loved her husband with unwavering devotion, it had been years since his death, and Nola was my age. She had plenty of life ahead of her.
Her answer, I noted, was not a no. Maybe she was ready to open her heart again, to love again. For no reason I could put my finger on, that made me really happy. After all, if I had to trust, love, and be vulnerable with someone, she could do it too. Misery loved a crowd, and all that.
I yawned my way into the bedroom, stripped, and fell asleep almost before I could pull the covers over me.
I drifted, not dreaming, aware of the warmth of my blankets, the curve of my pillows, the rhythm of my breath.
“Allison?” My father stood just outside my open bedroom door, one hand on the doorjamb. Something was wrong about this. I was in my old bedroom, the one I used to have when I lived with him in the condo, but I was not a little girl, I was an adult.
A part of my mind realized this was just a dream. Nightmare, more like it, since my father was a part of it. The rest of me was too tired to care.
I put the book I’d been reading aside, and my dad took that as an invitation to come into my room.
He rubbed his hand over his hair, grayer than I remembered, messing it up in a way I’d never seen him do in real life.
Dream . . .
my mind whispered. Right. Got it.
He sat on the bed next to me.
“I need your help.” He looked uncomfortable saying it. As well he should. Because he’d been mean . . . treated me badly . . . done something bad to me recently. I couldn’t remember what, but I knew I was angry with him. I knew I had every right to be angry with him.
“This hasn’t gone the way I expected.”
“Everything.” He laughed, one short sound that was almost a sob. He stared down at his shiny black shoes. “My life. Your life. My death.” He nodded, as if thinking that through for the first time. “Not at all what I’d planned.”
“I don’t think I want to be here.” I stood.
“Please,” he said. “Hear me out, Allison.” He softened his tone by holding one hand out toward me. “This is only a dream,” he soothed. “What harm in a dream?”
And I could taste it, the familiar honey of his words. When he spoke like that, with magic behind his words, I knew he was trying to make me do as he said, trying to Influence me.
“Please. Sit.”
I sat so quickly, the springs of my bed squeaked.
“Don’t,” I said. “Don’t do that.”
He looked surprised. “Do what?”
“Push me, Influence me, touch me like that. This is my . . . dream,” I managed to say. “You can’t push me around here.”
His surprise melted quickly away. He scowled. “This is no longer about you. No longer about what you want. This is about making sure the right things happen. Making sure magic is in the right hands and used correctly. By the right people, for the right thing. You can’t tell me you don’t want to keep the people you care about safe.”
Here he stopped, his eyes flicking from side to side, as if he were reading words printed on my forehead. “You do want the people you care for—Nola and Zayvion and . . . Violet?” He frowned, but continued, “You do want them safe, don’t you? And now those Hounds. You have the entire . . .”
Dirty, useless, worthless
. He didn’t have to say the words. He wasn’t the only one who could read thoughts. Dreaming allowed us both to peer in each other’s minds.
How fabulous was that? Just what I always wanted, a breathing-room-only front-row-seat look into my father’s innermost thoughts. Like I hadn’t gotten enough of that when he was alive.
“Yes?” I challenged.
“The entire pack,” he said, skipping over all the less charitable things he was thinking, “of Hounds looking up to you. Idolizing you after that man’s death.” He looked for his name, found it in my head. “Martin Pike’s death. Trusting you to keep them safe and sane now, something even he could not do.”
“Yeah, so?” Well, there was a choice retort. Apparently, I reverted to a ten-year-old when facing down my father.
“You are strong enough to lead them,” he said. “Stronger than Martin Pike. Strong enough to keep them, the Hounds and all whom you . . . love”—he said the last word like it was made of hot peppers—“safe. That, I am sure of. And I can help you.”
That, I did not want to hear. Not from him. Because there wasn’t a favor my father wouldn’t play to his advantage.
“What do you get out of helping me? You’re dead. Why do you care?”
His hands clenched together, the knuckles yellow beneath his skin. Anger sat in every tight muscle of his body. He did not touch me, though it looked like it hurt him not to.
“I have always cared.”
“Controlling someone isn’t the same as caring.”
He unclenched his hands and closed his eyes. I’d seen him look like that. Right before he was going to blow.
But when he spoke, his words were soft. “The Authority is crumbling. From within. There are those, like Frank Gordon, who seek to bring back Mikhail. People who are convinced his return is foretold.”
“Who is Mikhail, and where did he go?” I asked.
Dad opened his eyes. “He was the leader of the Authority. And he is dead.”
“Oh, could you guys get any creepier? I mean, seriously. Why would anyone think raising the dead is a good idea?”
“I can only guess.”
“Then guess.”
“If he is the one foretold in legends, then his crossover into death will only make him more powerful when he returns to life. He will bring the magic from the other side with him. He will wield the magic of both life and death. Dark magic, light magic, as one. It will be a new era of power in the world. Magic will become something much more than a billable commodity.”
I rubbed at my forehead. “Crazy. Crazy living people trying to raise crazy dead people. And you call these people your friends?”
“No. They were my equals. In everything, Allison. In the drive to dominate. To succeed. To own magic and those who use it. And you are willingly putting yourself into their hands.” He shook his head.
“I’m not listening,” I said. “I have a rule to never take advice from dead people.”
“Since when?”
“Since three seconds ago.”
“Allison, stop being childish. Maeve will test you. The Authority will test you, push you. When that time comes, you must not hesitate to use everything at your disposal to win. To survive what they will do to you. You must use everything available to you. Including me.”
“Whoa, wait.” If he had told me he was the king of Mars, I wouldn’t have been more surprised. “What the hell? You don’t let anyone . . .” I didn’t know what I was going to say, but the words
crossed my mind. His eyes widened slightly. I swore and pushed them away. This was worse than that damn blood-to-blood truth spell we’d shared before he died.
“You don’t let anyone so much as
you, much less
you. What do you get out of this? Out of me passing those tests?”
“I will live on.”
Immortality. What every egotistic narcissist wanted.
And it was the blunt truth that was both exactly what he was thinking and exactly what he meant, that stopped me cold.
“Listen to me, Allison. The Authority fears you. Fears what I . . . what you can become. You are a threat to them. You have always been a threat.”
To us
, he thought, before he pushed that too away. “It is why I have kept you away from them. Hidden. But now that they know what you are, you must not hesitate. When you are tested, you must be willing to kill to survive.”

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