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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 64

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"Make me small as well!" he shouted, voice softening as he got closer. "I'm going with her."

I watched Pierce and Ivy step over the wall. From grave to garden in one movement. When I turned back, Ceri's eyes were a deep green with tears, but her face was resolute. "Rachel," she said, taking my hand and holding it. "I understand this is hard. For you especially, having lost so many already, but who are you doing this for?"

Doubt hit me, followed quickly by resolve. "What do you mean, who am I doing this for?" I said, imagining his heartache, alone in his stump with Matalina and thinking his life was over. "Jenks kept me alive for two years through two death threats, a crazy banshee, and at least two serial killers. Its about time I return the favor! And if I can't, then I can sit by his bed and hold his hand as he dies, 'cause I've had plenty of practice doing that, too!"

Crap, I was crying again, but Ceri shook her head, eyes downcast. "I understand your frustration, but he's lost, Rachel," she said. "I'm sorry." Her gaze shifted behind me to Ivy and Pierce. "There will be no others like them," she whispered.

"He's not dead yet!" I shouted in sudden anger, born of helplessness. "Matalina wanted him to live on, and you've already got him in the ground, you cold, unfeeling bitch!"

"Rachel!" Ivy exclaimed, and immediately I relented.

"Ceri, I'm sorry," I said with a bad grace. "I didn't mean that. But Jenks is alone." My eyes started to fill again, and I wiped a hand over them. "He shouldn't be."

"I understand," she said stiffly. "It's the grief speaking. You do realize, none of this would have happened if you had killed the fairies."

My jaw clenched, and I turned away. I suppose I deserved it after calling her a bitch. Depressed, I sat, slumped, at the picnic table, as far from the fairies as I could get. This was so wrong. Jenks thought he was alone, and unless I could get in there, he would be. Damn it, he couldn't die. He couldn't! And not alone.

Pierce put a hand on my shoulder, but I didn't look up. My heart was breaking, and I held my breath until my head started to hurt. Why? Why hadnt I just killed them? But what kind of monster would I be if I could choose who lived and who died?

Ivy stood with her arms crossed over her middle, her cast awkward and her eyes red. "Ceri, she's right. Whether we can convince Jenks to live or not, one of us should be there with him. His wife just died. Don't let him grieve alone."

"I never said I wouldn't do it," Ceri said tartly, and my head came up.
"I just think it's time for Rachel to grow up. Face the facts. Pixies die young. That's why you befriend a family, not an individual."

I spun where I sat to look at her, aghast even as my chest hurt from trying not to cry. "You are a coldhearted bitch. You think it's time for me to grow up?" I said as I stood. "Accept everything that happens to me as fact? Jenks is not a life lesson to help me grow up. He's my friend, and he's hurting!"

I wasn't thinking clearly, but I didn't care. Jenks thought his life was over, and I couldn't get to him.

"He's a pixy, Rachel," Ceri said, eyes flicking over Ivy, probably calculating the odds that her next words might send the vamp after her. "This is what they do."

Emotions jumbled and numb, I looked over the garden for something, anything, seeing the fairies at the edge of their prison, listening. Jenks had let them live. Something no other pixy had ever done.

"Yeah," I said bluntly, not ready to let him go just yet. "Jenks is a pixy. And pixies die of heartache when their spouses die. But Jenks is more than a pixy. He went into partnership with Ivy and me; no other pixy has done that. He owns property. Has a credit card. Minutes left on his phone. He's probably going to live another twenty years because I reset his biological clock by accident last summer. He showed mercy and let those who attacked his garden live. What happened with Matalina is tragic. It's my fault she's dead. I can't sit here and just let him die as well, can t.

"People die, Rachel," Ceri said, her cheeks flushing.

"Not if I can help it," I snapped. "And not of a broken heart. If you could, I'd be dead already." I turned away, frustrated. "Please. At least let me be there so he doesn't die alone."

Ivy's breath caught. "I want to go, too," she said suddenly, and I turned to her, shocked. She would take a curse?

"Me as well," Pierce offered.

Ceri's lips pressed as she saw our united front. "Fine," she finally said, and the sudden relief almost collapsed my knees. "I don't agree with this," she added. "You are all only going to hurt Jenks. Pierce, you're familiar with twisting curses. I'll need help to make three quick enough to do some good. You can help."

Pierce's expression was a mix of relief and heartache. "Of course," he said, gesturing for Ceri to accompany him inside. But the elf would have none of his courtesy, and with her head high, she stalked up the stairs and into the house with a loud bang of the screen door.

Ivy exhaled long and slow. Pierce seemed to relax as well, arid he touched my arm and smiled. "It's a curse," he said, startling me when he leaned in and gave me a chaste kiss on the cheek, leaving me with the scent of redwood swirling in my brain. His steps confident, he rose up the stairs as well, closing the door behind him without a sound. A moment later, the kitchen window slammed shut, feminine fingers on the sill.

The hint was obvious. Stay out.

Shaking, I sat back down. With a sigh, Ivy slipped in to sit across from me. We exchanged a long look, both of us knowing that Ceri and Pierce had the easy part. It was going to be up to us to find a way to convince Jenks that life was worth living when his reason for living was gone. Deciding what to do with the fairies could wait.

It was almost noon, and I was still sitting at the picnic table, my upper body slumped against the damp wood and my head down, staring at Jenks's stump. I'd be dead if Brooke knew the fairy attack had failed and decided to come after me twice in one morning, but I didn't care. I was waiting for a sign of life from Jenks's stump, and I wasn't going inside and possibly miss it. Ivy had gone in to find out how much longer it would be, but that had been, like, five minutes ago.

The spring breeze shifted a curl into my eyes, and I brushed it away, staring, still staring, at the stump as my hip ached from hitting the floor too many times, my arm hurt where the fairy dart had found me, and my fingernails stank of burnt amber. At the end of the table, the fairies were moving around, recovering from their wounds and learning how to walk without their wings, still waiting to learn their fate. The garden was almost silent. Not a bird or insect, not a clatter of wing or pixy wail of mourning. It was eerie, and I sat up, feeling my back crack. "Where is everyone?" I whispered, not expecting an answer.

"Scattered," a fairy said, and I looked at Sidereal standing at the edge of the bubble. "When parents die, the young scatter. They die, or find mates and probably die. None return."

"Jenks isn't dead," I said quickly, feeling the hurt to the bone, and he grinned to show me his sharp teeth. Stifling a shudder, I looked back to the stump. Jenks's kids were going to leave? "Why leave?" I asked. "The garden isn't going anywhere."

Sidereal shrugged, his wicked grin turning to a grimace of pain when the skin on his back pulled. "It prevents inbreeding. They're only animals. We drift on the currents far above, listening for funeral songs like wolves listen for the ailing elk. The mourning pixies abandon their garden, and new ones won't move in until all evidence of habitation is gone. That's what we do. Wipe the slate clean. And they call us animals."

I was sure they scattered from heartache, not to prevent inbreeding, but I said nothing.

"There isn't even a fight unless another fairy clan claims it, too." Sidereal reached over his shoulder with disjointed arms to fix his clothing, rubbing the stumps of his wings. "That the pixy told his eldest to maintain the garden was unusual. Disgusting, when you think about it."

"It's not disgusting," I said, insulted. "Jenks told Jax to maintain the garden because he thinks I need pixy backup." But Jax was gone again, abandoning his father's dreams to follow his own. It was hard to find fault with him, though.

Sidereal was silent for a moment. "Your magic can make you as small as this?" he said doubtfully, looking down at his white, robelike clothes.

It hurt to talk about Jenks, but I said, "Yes. I made Jenks big once."

The fairy made a dry hiss I was starting to identify as disbelief. "He wouldn't be able to fly that size. The weight would be too much."

"He didn't have wings." I looked at the porch, then back to Jenks's stump. "He didn't need them when he was that big." I was struck by a sudden thought, and my eyes flicked to Sidereal.

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