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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 102

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A haze of brown-tinted ever-after hissed in front of us. It hit the legs of a man. He turned. Shock registered, first at us, and then his legs, now encased in the brown goo. He shrieked, making everyone around him look. Horror filled him, and he tried to push it off, but it clung to his hands and crept up his arms. In seconds he was on the ground, unconscious in a widening circle of fear.

"Oh, that's nasty!" Jenks exclaimed, and I lost my breath as he shot straight up, my ears popping. For an instant, the entire Fountain Square spread before us, a mass of noise and movement, and then he dropped.

"Je-e-e-enks!" I shrieked, terrified. I flopped like a rag doll, but we were almost there.

The pop of radio chatter was a blur as we headed for the stage.
"Where in hell is the sticky silk!" someone shouted. Another voice demanded, "Get Kalamack out of here! She's got something in her arms!"

They thought I was Jenks? Were they blind?

News crew lines lay across the gray granite, and the whine of electronics hurt my ears as we dipped and swooped. Adrenaline surged as we found the stage. People in suits fell back at Jenks's darting form, as if he was a deadly bumblebee, and I found Trent at the podium. Two I.S. cops were with him: a vamp and a witch. I pointed to the plywood stage, and Jenks dove for it.

I stumbled as my feet found purchase. Jenks's grip slipped from me, and I looked up to see Quen trying to hustle Trent away. Trent's eyes met mine, and he stopped dead in his tracks, wanting his statue back, no doubt.

"Morgan?" he whispered, his voice finding me over the noise. His eyes narrowed, and Jenks flew up to protect me. There was a hiss of propellant, and he darted away, one wing tangled in sticky silk.

"Non sum qualis eraml" I shouted as brown shoes circled me, making the stage shake.

The world seemed to collapse into me. Sound sucked inward, taking the heat of the sun and the rising damp from the plywood under my bare feet. I felt the curse take hold, and the clicking of a thousand abacuses grew as I was reduced to a thought and rebuilt from the idea of myself stored in the demon database.

I pay this cost, I thought in the perfect silence of nothing. No heartbeat, no pixy wings. Nothing. The smut from the curse coated me in a soothing layer of black, and I shuddered.

I felt the magic rise from the singular point of existence that I was, rushing through me, and I expanded. My aura rang as it adjusted, and suddenly... I was back.

Noise hit me, and I sucked in air. Jenks had gotten me here, but he was paying the price for it, sitting on a news crew antenna trying to get the sticky silk off.

"She was a pixy! You see that? She was a pixy! That's Rachel Morgan! Get a picture!"

"Oh my God," a feminine voice exclaimed as the crowd reacted. "She's naked! Where did she come from? Are you getting this, Frank?"

Frank, the cameraman, was indeed getting this, and I looked for Pierce, almost panicking when I didn't see him. I was absolutely naked and in front of rolling video cameras. I didn't want to think about the Internet in two hours' time. God, my mother...

Trent stared, his one look down and up making me flush. "What the devil are you doing, Rachel?" he said as I snatched his speech from the podium and tried to cover myself.

"Rachel!" I heard, and my head swung around. It was Pierce, three I.S. cops elbowing and tossing people out of their way to get to him. "Catch!"

He threw the statue over six rows of people. It glittered in the sun even as the I.S. agents fell on him. Fear and surprise rang out when Pierce vanished from right under them and they landed on nothing. My hand went up, and with a solid thump, the erotic statue hit my palm. Everyone was looking at the I.S. cops on the ground, not me. Everyone but Trent. He'd seen the statue, and he shoved the pulling hands off him, his want showing, full and hungry.

I eyed Trent, flushed with embarrassment and premature victory. Try to scare me into signing that lame-ass paper, huh? "I'm trying to return your statue, dumb ass," I said to him over the noise. "Come talk to me in jail if you want it back." Then louder, I wailed, "I can't do this! I'm not a thief. I'm a good girl! I don't care if the coven gives me a lobotomy, I'm not a thief. Take your freaky statue back, Mr. Kalamack!"

I threw the elf porn at him like a girl, feeling a shiver go through me as it left my aura. He caught it, and someone grabbed me from behind. A coat fell over my shoulders, hitting just under my butt. "I made a mistake!" I shouted as I struggled to keep facing the assembled people. "I'm not a bad witch!"

Trent gripped the statue, frozen, wonder on his face.

"Get a shot of that," the newswoman said, then smacked Frank. "Not her, the statue!"

At my feet, Frank panned to the left, and my hands were wrenched behind me, making the coat flop open. "Hey!" I shouted, going down on my stomach. Flat on the stage, I was at the same level as the news crews. I tossed my hair out of my eyes and looked at Trent. He'd slipped the statue into his suit jacket's pocket, but Quen - wise-to-the-world Quen - was pulling it back out and tucking it in his own.

"Watch it!" I shouted, trying to breathe as there was the cool feel of a zip strip around both my wrists and the ever-after flowed out of me. I was yanked to my feet, stumbling. Where in hell is Glenn? "I'm a good witch!" I shouted over the uproar. "The coven made me do it! But I had to give it back to Trent. I'm a good witch. I am! I'm just scared! The coven is trying to kill me!"

It was going too fast. The coven wasn't here yet! Rough hands were tugging me to the steps, and I hooked my foot behind the man's ankle and sent him down. I fell on him, my elbow somehow managing to hit his solar plexus. His grip on me fell away, and I got to my feet, struggling with the next guy. Where in hell was Glenn?

"Get back!" his voice thundered, and I almost cried. "Get off the woman! Can't you see she doesn't have any weapons?"

"She hardly has any clothes," a man at the front of the crowd said, but I didn't care when Glenn's muscular, bald, big-black-man's presence shoved his way to me. One hidden punch, and the I.S. guy holding me went down, gently eased to the stage floor by Glenn.

"About time you showed," I said as he zipped my coat closed. "I think that guy felt me up."

"You okay?" his voice rumbled, and I searched his eyes.

"Just tell me you've got David's paperwork for an FIB arrest."

His grin was like sunshine, and I felt this just might work.

"Ms. Morgan! Ms. Morgan!" the newscaster was shouting, holding her mike up over her head. "You claim the coven told you to steal Mr. Kalamack's statue?"

I couldn't answer that without outright lying. "Take me in!" I begged as Glenn pushed our way to the steps, and I tripped, falling right in front of her. "Please," I begged to the camera, stalling, so Vivian could show up. "I'm a good witch! They made me do it! It was my only way out!" Which they did. Sort of. In a roundabout way.

"Corruption in the coven. I'm going to get an Emmy for this," the woman said, then turned to Trent as Glenn hoisted me out of her reach. "Mr. Kalamack! Sir! Is that your statue?"

Trent was behind three big guys, but he wasn't leaving. "I've no idea what is going on."

The FIB had taken the stage, and with his hand around my elbow, Glenn hesitated. "Sir, if that's not yours, we need it as evidence."

Trent's face went white. Slowly Quen brought the statue back into the sun, and cameras whirred and snapped as it changed hands. Trent's look at me was murderously calm. If this didn't work, I was going to be so-o-o-o dead.

"It's his," I babbled for the cameras. "I stole it out of his vault yesterday. The coven shunned me. I had no choice!" Where in hell is Vivian?

"Will someone read that woman her rights and get her to shut up?" Trent said, but the cameras were on me.

"The coven told you to steal it?" one of the reporters asked.

Glenn's grip on me tightened, and I followed his gaze to where the crowd was parting. Black suits and power ties. It was the coven, but it wasn't Vivian, it was Oliver!

"That woman is mine!" Oliver shouted even before he found the steps, his face red as he strode forward, amulets swinging and Mobius cuff links shining in the sun. "I claim jurisdiction. She is a black witch, shunned, and I won t have her spreading lies of corruption in the coven!"

I pressed back into Glenn, the air cold on my knees. It was about to get tricky.

"Sir!" the reporter was saying, her mike aimed at Oliver as he found the stairs. "Did you tell Morgan to steal the statue from Mr. Kalamack to get her shunning removed?"

The man stopped on the stairs, looking aghast. "Of course not!"

She looked at her ring, and I realized the thing was an amulet, glowing a steady green. It was a truth charm. Shit. I had to work fast. Good thing I hadn't lied.

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