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Black Magic Sanction


Black Magic Sanction: Page 9


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He was laughing at me.

"Mmmm. Can I go now?" I said dryly, not liking the "baby doll" tag but letting it go.

Glenn searched out a key and hit it with a sound of finality. Leaning back, he laced his dark fingers over his middle like I'd seen his dad do. "Not until Jenks posts your bail."

I groaned. Damn it, Ivy must have stopped at home first. One more thing to owe the pixy.

"He seemed proud to do it," Glenn said. "You can wait here, or go to the basement with the rest of the felons." His smile widened. "I vouched for you," he added, then leaned forward to answer his phone, now humming on the interoffice line.

"Thanks," I said sourly, slouching down as he took the call. How was I going to pay Jenks back? My share of the sale of my mom's house had been keeping me afloat lately, but I didn't want to tap into that to post bail. Robbie's half had gone to his upcoming wedding, and I was living on mine. It was hardly the statement of independence I'd wanted, but things would pick up. They always did around spring.

"Who?" Glenn said into the phone, his voice rising in disbelief, and then both Glenn and I looked toward the attention-getting tap on his door frame.

"Trent Kalamack," the feminine voice on the phone said clearly over the faint office noise, naming the trim figure in his two-thousand-dollar suit now silhouetted in the doorway, his arm slowly slipping behind him from where he'd confidently tapped on the door. Suave and self-assured, the man smiled faintly at the woman's awe.

"Next time, call before you send someone up," Glenn said as he stood.

"But it's Trent Kalamack!" the voice said, and Glenn hung up on her.

My breath slipped from me, almost a groan. Trent Kalamack. The obscenely successful, smiling businessman, ruthless bio- and street-drug lord, elf in hiding, and pain-in-my-ass-extraordinaire Trent Kalamack. Right on schedule. "Why is it you show up only when I need money?" I sat straighter, but I wasn't going to get up unless it was to smack him.

Trent still smiled, but the faint worry pinching his eyes tickled the back of my brain. Trent wasn't especially tall, but his bearing made people take notice, as if his baby-fine, nearly white hair, devilishly confident smile, and drool-worthy, athletic physique gained from riding his prize-winning horses wouldn't. All that I could ignore - mostly - but his voice... his beautiful voice, rich in variance and resonant... That was harder - and I hated that I loved it.

Trent was Cincinnati's most eligible bachelor, still single because of me. He'd thanked me for that in a weird moment of honesty when he thought we might die in a demon's prison cell. I was still wondering why I'd bothered to save his little elf butt. Misplaced responsibility, maybe? That I'd saved his life didn't seem to mean anything to him, since he had tried to make my skull one with a tombstone not three seconds after I got us safe.

Apparently my helping him get the ancient-elf DNA sample from the demons to repair his species genome had been enough to earn my right to live, but I was sure he was still mad at me for having messed up his city council seat reelection plans by trashing his wedding. Rumors in the Were community had it that he was going to make a bid for the mayoral position instead. My gut clenched, and I winced as I flicked a gaze at him.

Where there had once been only irritation, there was now satisfaction in Trent's green eyes as he took Glenn's offered hand extended across his cluttered desk. My pulse raced - he'd called me a demon and tried to kill me. I wasn't. I was a witch. But he had a point - my children would be demons.

"Mr. Kalamack," Glenn said, hiding his fluster. "It's a pleasure."

All trace of Trent's feelings for me were hidden but for the barest tightening of his eyes. "Good to see you again, Detective," he said. "I trust Ms. Morgan is behaving herself tonight?"

Clearly uncomfortable, Glenn stopped smiling. "What can I do for you, sir?"

Trent didn't miss a beat. "I simply have something for Ms. Morgan to sign. I heard she was here, and I was nearby."

He turned expectantly to me, and my bobbing foot stopped. I don't know what disturbed me more, that Trent wanted me to sign something, or that he had known where to find me. Had my grocery trip already made the news?

Tired, I shifted my hand to cover up a particularly big splotch of strawberry on my knee. "What do you want, Trent?" I asked bluntly.

Trent's gaze noted everything before returning to Glenn. "Coffee... perhaps?"

Glenn and I exchanged a knowing look. "Why not," the detective said blandly, maneuvering gracefully out from behind his desk. "How do you take it?"

"Black, no sugar," Trent said, and I thought longingly of the time when that would have been enough for me, but no, I was turning into a coffee snob despite my best efforts.

Glenn nodded before he shifted past Trent, the rims of his ears turning red when he rotated the rat back to the wall before he left. His footsteps sounded softly, and I held my breath and counted to five. "What are you doing slumming?" I said as I swiveled the chair, trying to look casual.

"I'm here to help you."

I didn't even try to stop my laughter, and in response, Trent moved and settled himself on Glenn's desk, one foot on the floor, the other pulled up slightly like a GQ model.

"I don't need money that badly," I lied, forcing my gaze from him. "The last time I worked for you, you screwed things up so much that I got shunned. Nice of you to tell the press why I was in the ever-after, by the way," I finished sarcastically, and his brow furrowed.

Guilt? I wondered, not able to tell right now. If he had told the press I'd been there working for him, things might have gone differently. I'd have told them myself, but I doubted that Trent would've backed me up, and then I'd have looked twice the fool. The public knowing he'd been caught by demons would have seriously jeopardized his political agenda. That I couldn't make a living anymore didn't seem to matter to him.

Yet I couldn't help but wonder. First the coven trying to talk to me, and now Trent? Fishing for more, I rolled my neck against the top of the chair and looked at the ceiling. "I'm not working for you, Trent. Forget it."

The soft sound of a linen envelope against silk caught my attention, and I sat up as he extended an envelope he'd taken from an inner pocket of his suit. I looked at it like the snake it was. I'd gotten envelopes from him before. Slowly I leaned forward. My fingers didn't shake at all as I pulled the unsealed flap open and removed a heavyweight trifolded paper. Silently I scanned it, finding a casually worded, but probably more-serious-than-a-heart-attack contract that said I would work for Kalamack Industries and only Kalamack Industries. Forever. God, what was wrong with the man? Did he think everyone put money before morals like he did?

I dropped my hand to dangle the paper inches from the dirty tile. "I just said I wasn't going to work a job for you," I said softly, too tired of his games to be mad. "What makes you think I'll sign this? Be your witch? What happened to Dr. Anders? I've seen your retirement plan, Trent. Is she pushing up rare orchids in your gardens?"

Irritation furrowed his brow as he stooped to take the paper. Immediately I let go of it, and the sheet slid under my chair and out of his easy reach. Trent pulled back, peeved. "Dr. Anders is busy in the labs," he said.

"You mean she's too old to kick ass."

A smile showed, real and unexpected. "I prefer to say she is sedentary."

My focus blurred, my expression slipping into disgust and anger, not at Trent, but at myself for having mishandled the last year or so to the point where I was shunned and broke, living through the grace of my friends. "Trent..."

He leaned back against the desk, but I couldn't tell if his worry was real or contrived.
"You're in trouble, and you don't even know it."

My thoughts went to the pin in my bag. Uncomfortable, I glanced out the open door, not wanting the office to hear this, but not wanting to be shut in a room with him either. If you only knew the half of it... "I'm sitting in an FIB office while my partner posts my bail," I said tightly. "I think I know I'm in trouble."

"I'm talking about the coven of moral and ethical standards," he said, and I couldn't help my start. "We had lunch. Rachel, I swear I didn't tell them what you are. They already knew."

The fear turned into a solid lump and fell to my gut. What I am? "You slimy little toad!" I whispered as I stood. Trent was on his feet in an instant, but he didn't back up. "You told them!" I exclaimed softly, hands in fists. "You told the coven I could invoke demon magic!" No wonder they were trying to snag me! Snag me, hell, they were going to freaking kill me!

The noise from the nearby offices filtered in. His eyes fixed on mine, chilling me. "I wasn't about to lie to them," he said stiffly.

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