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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 57

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Vampires have existed nearly as long as we have. We aren't immune to their charms. And Ivy is charming." His jaw tightened, and I flushed. "She'd treat you well until she died, and likely thereafter as well."

I held Rex close, feeling her warmth. "Ivy and I... ," I started, then mentally backed up. "It's complicated," I came out with instead. "But there's nothing between us but space, now."

His eyes never left mine as he evaluated my words with what he had seen the past year. "Do you love her?" he insisted. "More than a sister's love?"

My thoughts went back to the kiss she'd given me. And the moment in the kitchen when we had tried to share something without her losing control and failed. The sensations she pulled from me were forever entwined with the vampire who had tried to bind me to him and blood-rape me. More than a sisters love. I knew what he was asking, and though I knew the answer was yes, I shook my head, thinking that what I felt meant nothing if I wasn't going to pursue it.

"I don't swing that way, Pierce," I said, voice quavering as a sudden anger took me - anger for my not being smart enough to find a way to be the person I wanted to be as well as the person Ivy needed me to be. "Thanks for the reminder."

Ticked, I turned to open my charm cupboard, the cat squirming. "I've got a burn charm in here somewhere," I said tightly as I let Rex go. "I probably have a few minutes before my assassins show."

A wave of sound shook the pots hanging over the counter, and I heard the discordant jangle of a hundred wind chimes.

Or not, I thought, eyes going to the garden window.

"Jenks?" I shouted, darting for the back door.

The bright glow of a pixy pulled me to a skidding stop in the back living room. It was Jax, and his blade was bared, already sporting a red sheen.

"Fairies," he all but spat, face twisted. "The coven sent fairies. They're attacking the garden. An entire spawn of them!"

Fairies. The word slid through my mind, chilling me. Matalina and the kids. Damn it, I was going to get everyone killed. I grasped the knob to the back door and pulled. It slipped from my grasp as Pierce pushed it shut, it having only opened inches.

"It's a lure to draw you out," he said, gaze fierce as he stood with his hand on the door.

"Then it worked." Shoving him aside, I tapped the line out back and flung the door open. Lunging, I swore as a handful of needles went thunk-ing into the couch behind me. I dove for the bottom of the step, turning it into a roll. The soft, rain-wet earth cushioned me as I somersaulted behind the picnic table, propped up on end against the big tree for winter. I took a breath, and Pierce was suddenly crouching beside me.

"I swan, Rachel," he muttered, peeved. "You're going to be the death of me again."

Immediately I set a circle around both of us. "I thought you said you liked what scared you." There was a surge of noise from the pixies, and I peeked to see them beating the butterfly-winged fairies back, the fight rising higher as they both struggled for supremacy. The bobbing color of the fairies' wings was encroaching from over the graveyard in a highly structured pattern that went up as well as from side to side. Surrounding the stump between us were darting shapes shedding sparkles to confuse and misdirect. If one didn't know that a battle for survival was going on, it'd be breathtaking.

"Ivy?" I shouted while rubbing the dirt from my palms. Pierce took my arm and I jerked from him, only to find him take a stronger grip. "What are you doing?" I snapped.

"Hold still." His lips pressed together, and I gasped when a surge of ley-line energy spilled into me. I pulled back at the invasion, shoving him when I felt a hot pulse of pain from my arm where he was gripping me. We fell over together, but he wouldn't let go and we broke my circle. Only now did he let go, and I jerked when a new, green-tinted circle enclosed us.

"What is your problem!" I exclaimed. Great, now my knees were hurt and wet.

"Poison," he said as he huddled close to the old wood. "I burned it up within you."

Embarrassed, I looked down. There was a tiny hole in my shirt, the edges charred. The skin under was pink with the hint of a sunburn surrounding a nasty bruise I didn't remember getting. Oh. "Urn, thanks," I stammered. "Sorry."

"Do tell," he said, his jaw tight and not meeting my eyes.

Peeking around the barrier, I saw a cluster of brightly colored wings rising over the protection of the shed. "Jenks! Behind you!" I exclaimed, then jerked behind the wood as three spears bounced off Pierce's bubble. Cripes, I had nothing for fairies. Nothing!

There was a high, tinkling shout, and I carefully peered around the table to see Jax's wings turn a shocking shade of yellow. As if it was a signal, a slew of pixy arrows rained down. The encroaching vanguard of purple-winged fairies went down with tattered wings. With a bloodthirsty yell, six of Jenks's younger kids dove out of my old teakettle, hidden under the shrubs, and attacked them with cold steel and vicious shouts. Three seconds later, the fairies lay dead and his children were giving one another high fives. Holy shit. Jenks's kids were savages!

"Rache!" Jenks barked above me, and I looked up, my expression still holding the horror. "What are you doing out here?" he asked, rising up and then down to avoid a spear.

"Taking notes," I said, nudging Pierce to take his bubble down long enough to give Jenks a place to rest. "Have you seen Ivy?" God, if she was injured somewhere...

The haze of green-tinted ever-after blinked out of existence, then returned. Jenks hovered before me with the scent of crushed dandelions, bringing my senses awake and filling me with the need to move.
"She's practicing her moves up front," he said cryptically. Worried, I started to rise, only to be jerked back down. "She's fine!" Jenks said, laughing at my fear. "Don't go looking for her. She's vamped out." He smiled, looking devilish. "Kinda scary.

"Pierce," Jenks said, surprising me. "Rache can't do anything here. Jump her out."

"I can't jump anyone but myself," Pierce said. "Only a demon or a skilled gargoyle, which Bis is not, can carry another."

A familiar scream ripped through the air, lifting over the fairy battle cries and the breathy sounds of tattered wings struggling for lift. Jenks lifted up to the limits of Pierce's bubble, and both Pierce and I looked around the edge of the table.

"Sweet mother of Mary," Pierce whispered as Ivy vaulted over the wall between the street and the church, her curved sword in her good hand. Dodging tiny spears, she took out two fairies with ugly splats of sound. Shaking them off, she rolled to the shed, eyes wild and hair settling to hang perfectly as her back slammed up against the old wood. Holy crap, she was like Mary Lou Retton on Brimstone!

"Let me out, Rache!" Jenks shouted, but I wasn't the one holding the circle.

Ivy jumped into motion an instant before a barrage of arrows thunked into the shed where her middle would have been. A smattering of tiny arrows was embedded in her new cast, and she wiped them off using the sword blade. With vampiric speed and grace, she bounded back to the stump and the protection of Jenks's kids.

"Ivy!" I called, wanting her to join us - even if she was vamped out.

Across the backyard, the gate to the street was flung open, crashing into the wall with a sodden thump. Ceri was standing in the opening, the unpainted wood framing her small stature. Her hair was unbound, and the fair strands almost floated as she strode forward, anger and determination in every tiny-footed step. The woman was seven months pregnant. What in God's name was she doing here?

"Celero dilatare!" she shouted gleefully, and a black ball of force formed in her hands. Pink lips pulled back in a grimace, she threw it.

"Fire in the hold!" I yelled. Inking, pixies darted up, Ivy lunged to the shelter of the shed, and with a twist of her hand in a ley-line gesture, Ceri exploded her curse right within the greatest gathering of butterfly wings.

Crap on toast! I jerked behind the table with Pierce as a black-rimmed wash tinted with blue highlights colored the garden. It pulsed over Pierce's protective bubble... and was gone. When I looked, Ceri was standing beside the stump while the fairies struggled to regroup, scattered by what I was guessing was just a huge displacement of air. Ceri was calm and satisfied in her white dress trimmed in gold and purple. A bulge showed at her middle as she proudly showed off the life growing within her to Jenks's daughters, who took time out to feel the soft swelling through her linen dress before going down to slaughter the dazed fairies.

Lee, I thought, giving the man a silent thank-you as I rose to my feet. He must have told her what was going on and she'd left Trent's compound. She was beautiful in her anger, but I wasn't sure if it had been a curse or just a strong spell.

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