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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 103

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"I tried to keep the demon from taking Brooke," I babbled. "Friday. At sunset. You heard the explosion. All of Cincinnati did! Oliver, you have to believe me. She summoned a demon. I told her not to, but she did. I tried to save her, and she told him to kill me!"

The newscaster's amulet stayed green, and the woman's eyes grew bright. Corruption in the coven indeed.

Trent pushed forward. "Get her out of here," he hissed to Oliver.

"I'm trying," Oliver said, his fingers encircling my arm.

"No!" I said, shrinking back, my fear real. "I want due process!" Anywhere other than an FIB cell, and I was dead or lobotomized. And Trent smiled, the bastard. I hope you choke on it, elf hoy.

The newscaster held her mike higher, flushed. "Mr. Coven Leader, has a member of the coven been demon-napped in conjunction with Morgan's assassination attempt?"

Oliver hesitated. It was his downfall. Guilty or not, he looked it. Smooth as silk, Trent stepped forward. "I'm sure the coven leader will give you a statement in due time." Turning his back to the crowd, he hissed, "Will you get her out of here?"

Oliver tugged on me, and I pressed into Glenn. "I didn't want to do it!" I shrieked. "I didn't want to break into Trent's vault. I don't care if I go to jail, but don't let the coven take me. They put me in Alcatraz with no trial. They sent fairies to burn my church. And they summoned a demon to kill me!"

And of course the newswoman's amulet stayed a nice, beautiful green. Eyes bright, she stood on tiptoe, her mike above her head. "Sir! Is there any connection between Ms. Morgan's claims of an attack and the 911 call to the Hollows at 1597 Oakstaff yesterday morning?"

Innocent as a lamb, the man stammered, "I wasn't aware of an explosion."

Her ring glowed red. Trent's head bowed and he started distancing himself. I felt a glimmer of hope. Oliver had lied, and the reporter knew it.

"Sir, is it coven policy to take contracts out on shunned witches?" she insisted as if sensing blood. "Did you tell Morgan to steal for you to escape such a punishment?"

"Uh..." He hesitated, then shouted, "I'm taking custody. She is a black-arts witch! Look, I have the paperwork."

Crap. I'd forgotten that the coven loved red tape as much as David. "Glenn," I said, my fear very real, "don't let them take me. Please!"

But he could do nothing as a wheezing, red-faced Oliver handed him a paper. Damn it, I was not going to die from paperwork. "Ah, Rachel...," Glenn said, his face becoming concerned as he looked up from it. "We might have a problem here."

"Glenn," I breathed, knees going weak. "They'll kill me! Don't let them take me!"

Oliver made a satisfied huff. This was not happening. This was not happening!

As if in a dream, I heard Glenn promise he'd get me back, but it wouldn't matter. In five minutes, I'd be in a van, hopped up on drugs. An hour after that, I'd be on a surgery table.

Someone took my elbow and tugged me to the steps. "No!" I shouted, and the crowd responded. In a panic, I yanked out of Oliver's grip. Three more men grabbed me. I struggled, but sheer body mass overcame me, and I hit the floor, awkward with my hands bound behind me with that damned charmed silver. Tears started from the impact, and my breath huffed out when one of them landed on me.

"Rache!" Jenks shrilled, inches from my face and almost under someone's shoes. "Pierce says he's sorry! He can't allow the coven to take you!"

My heart sank. It was over. Pierce was going to do something. It was going to be powerful, wonderful, and completely cook my ass and label me black for sure. "I'm sorry, too," I whispered, hearing Glenn shouting about due process, stalling. "I really thought this would work." Oh God. I was going to have to spend the rest of my life in the ever-after. Damn it! Damn it back to the Turn.

Jenks flashed me a grin, shocking me. "No, you idiot. He's going to magic your zip strip off. He's sorry because it's going to burn."

He's going to what? I was yanked up, the flash of Jenks darting away was almost lost amid the shouting crowd and the reporters demanding statements. My shoulder hurt, and I spit the hair out of my mouth. I inhaled sharply as my wrists flashed into flame.

Over? I thought, gritting my teeth in a savage smile as the men flashed papers at each other and argued over who was to have me. It wasn't over yet.

Glenn was blocking the stairs, his compact bulk not backing down from a black-eyed living vamp insisting he get out of the way. I had the fleeting thought that his time with Ivy was serving him well. Behind my back, hidden by the overly long sleeves of my borrowed coat, my wrists burned where the metal touched me. Taking a breath, I pulled. And damn me back to the two worlds colliding if the charmed silver didn't give.

My heart leapt as the silver parted with a soft ping. The two I.S. officers at my shoulders were oblivious as the ever-after flooded in from the university ley line. My head snapped up, and I took a huge breath, palming the still-warm metal. Trent saw my expression, and somehow he knew. He touched Quen's arm, leaning to whisper in his ear. Quen's eyes flicked to mine, and I swear if he didn't smile, even as he started pulling Trent away, jumping to the pavers and almost yanking him down.

Youd better run, I thought dryly. Right to the FIB building to wait for me. Glenn had the statue, and I knew Trent would come for it. No one watched their retreat, the ring of reporters trying to get quotes from the much louder drama Oliver was making. All, that is, but the one reporter watching Quen drag Trent through the crowd, her eyebrows raised in speculation.

Over the noise and swirling motion, I found Pierce, standing alone and apart in the sun at the edge of the square, his feet spread wide and his hat pulled low to put his face in shadow. Looking at me from under its brim, he smiled, and it was as if everything else melted away.

"Thank you," I whispered, feeling my heart pound. He could have saved me with black magic. He could have blown in with spells flashing and outrage as his sword - but he didn't. He trusted me to save myself - the way I wanted to.

"That woman is a black witch!" Oliver shouted, red-faced as he waved his paper in front of me. "She is coming with me!"

I could have reached out and smacked him, but instead I clasped my hands behind my back, preserving the illusion that I was bound. My gaze went over the crowd, over the strung lines and amplifiers to the fountain, silent and still but still holding water. I needed a focusing object; my spit would be enough.

"Jenks!" I shouted, and the one reporter at the front met my eyes. "Go to ground!"

I flung out a hand, the ever-after in me a ripple of warmth down my arm and to my fingers. "Consimilis calefacio!" I shouted, willing the energy to flow. It was a charm to warm water, utterly innocuous and unable to work on living things with an aura. The fountain, though...

With the force of the university ley line behind the simple spell, the water in the fountain erupted in a thunderous boom of sound. All heads turned, but it wasn't just the noise that I wanted, and shouts rang out when the water turned to harmless steam. In an instant, the square was lost in fog.

Fear rose, and the officers moved to hold me. They didn't know I was free, though, and with a few well-placed knees and elbows, they went down. I didn't want to escape. I wanted my FIB cell. Smiling, I reached out for Oliver.

"You... h-how?" the older man stammered as I grabbed his shirt and yanked him to me.

"Look, Oliver," I said, just the two of us lost in the fog for a few seconds more. "Either you let me go and come see me at the FIB, or the next thing I vaporize will be your blood. Got it?"

His mouth opened and closed. "You are a demon!" he said, and I saw fear flicker. "That's a black curse!"

Crap, scaring him this much wasn't what I wanted. If he was scared, then he'd fight me. "I'm a demon only if you call me one," I said as I eased my hold. "If you call me a witch, then I'm a witch, and a witch doesn't know the curse to boil blood." I eyed him, letting his front go and rocking back. "Wouldn't me being a witch make everything a hundred times easier?"

His fear shifted to anger as the wind rose, scattering the mist. We were alone no more, and I rocked back.

The crowd was frightened, the people on the outskirts making a hasty retreat. Pierce, too, was no longer there when I looked. Here at the stage, however, no one had moved. There was a slight stir at the two downed officers, but I was standing passively, hands behind my back. The reporter knew, though, watching me with a knowing glint.

"Mr. Coven Leader!" she shouted, loud over the surrounding calls. "Is Ms. Morgan going with you, or to the FIB for due process as she clearly requested?"

The crowd hushed somewhat as Oliver clenched his jaw and tugged his clothes straight.

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