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Black Magic Sanction


Black Magic Sanction: Page 91


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Voices were echoing down from the unseen open walkways two stories above us. They were growing tense, and I silently prayed I wouldn't hear Trent's. "Just keep moving," Ivy said, her hand on my back, and I shivered. The twin doors to the kitchen were a relief, the empty stainless-steel counters even more so. Just fifteen more feet, and we'd be in the garage. I'd be willing to bet Nick could hotwire a car if it didn't have the keys in it.

Vm going to steal another one of Trent's cars. What is wrong with me? But really, compared to what was strapped to my back, I didn't think he'd care about the car.

"Sir?" a voice queried behind us, and Nick reached for the big door to the garage. It didn't move. Damn, damn, damn!

"Shit," he said as he tugged, his worry looking wrong on Trent's face.

"It's locked?" I hissed, and Ivy's hand left me as she tried the door.

"Sir!" the voice came again, closer, and I stiffened. "Let me get that for you. We went into lockdown. That's why your card isn't working. I've got a car coming up right now."

I turned, and his face mirrored my relief. "You're a blessing," I whispered, holding my fake middle. Ivy and Nick went one way, and I went the other, allowing the security guard to run his card in the almost invisible card reader. Nothing happened. The little light stayed red, and looking nervous, he ran it again.

This time, it turned green with a friendly little beep, and Ivy pushed the door open. The scent of cold, dark garage and the sound of a running engine slipped in, cool around my ankles. "You need to get that card looked at," Nick said, lurching after us as Ivy strode to the driver's door and yanked it open.

I held my middle and ran forward, not waiting for anyone to open the door for me. I dove in, yanking Nick after me when I thought he was moving too slowly. God, he was taking this Trent thing too seriously. He slid in with a show of irritation, and I leaned past him to grab the door and slam it shut.

"Get out, or I'm going to break your arm," Ivy said, discussing things with the driver. "Ceri needs feverfew, and as her doctor, I'm going to see she gets it." Too stunned to move, the driver stared until Ivy reached in, plucked him out, and tossed him to land ungracefully at the curb. The watching security officer ran to help him up, only now starting to look unsure.

"Before the sun goes nova?" I said, and two streaks of silver zipped into the car.

"Go, go, go!" Jenks shrilled, darting from the front to the back of the car like he was on steroids. "Communication is down, but they know what they're doing, and it will be up in three minutes! You gotta get through the gate by then!"

The security guy was fumbling with his radio, and Ivy hit the gas, maneuvering the big car in a tight circle to head for the faint patch of lighter dark that was the exit. Jax landed on Nick's shoulder, the winded pixy breathing hard and his wings drooping. Keeping up with his dad was harder than it looked. We were going to do this, and I started to laugh, taking the canvas off my back and laying it across my knees so I wouldn't squish it.

"We're not out yet," Ivy said as Nick braced himself to keep from hitting the roof when we bounced out of the underground garage and into the dark. "We have the gate to get through."

"Piece of cake," I said, remembering the flimsy gate I'd busted through the last time.

"Rachel, that was fantastic!" Nick was saying, his image blurring as the car's jostling made his aura shift. "The stuff you could do. My God, you went right through that wall!"

Sobering, I pushed back to a corner. "Yeah," I said, looking at the bump in his pocket, and his expression looked wondering at my less-than-enthusiastic response. "The stuff I can do. Is that all you see? How to use magic to steal stuff? I'm doing this to save my life. And I'm giving the picture back." My eyes went to his pocket. "I'm not a thief."

The car grew quiet. Nick's pensive features made him look even less like Trent. Jax was on his knee, the pixy with his head between his knees as he tried to get his sugar levels back where they belonged until his dad threw a ball of something at him and he ate it.

"We've got people in the road," Ivy said. "And a big gate. What do you want to do?"

Shifting to the middle, I looked. The front gatehouse was all lit up with big lights to look like day. There was a new, much more substantial gate, and a big sign warning cars to stop to avoid tire damage. Swell. Trent had gotten a new gate. I should have guessed. "Urn, stop?" I said, heart pounding as I shoved my belt pack in place.

Coming to a slow halt, Ivy rolled down the window. Nick sat quietly beside me, thinking, which was worrisome all by itself. Jenks and Jax had hidden themselves, but I knew Jenks, at least, could react in an instant. Jax was still recovering. Maybe he, at least, had learned something. The guard on duty, flanked by two more officers, came forward, each taking a door. The tension wound tighter.

"Dr. Anders?" the approaching man asked in surprise, the usual clipboard absent.

"We're going for a drive," she said imperially, sounding a lot like the distasteful woman. "Ceridwen needs a plant to stop her labor."

"I'm not in labor!" I said, earning a quick glance. Jenks buzzed a hidden warning, and I pushed myself back into the shadows.

"I need to see some identification, Dr. Anders."

Nick leaned forward. "Do you know who I am?" he asked.

The officer's eyes grew predatory. "No, sir, but seeing as I just talked to you and you were in your office, I know who you aren't."

Shit.

The click of safeties sparked through me, and I sank back into the cushions. Had I really believed I could do this? "Job's over," I breathed, seeing weapons pointed at the car. Twenty feet from us, the comforting black of the night beckoned. Twenty feet. It might as well have been the moon. We'd tried. I didn't want to give up, but I didn't want us dead either. There had to be a way, but if I brought Al into this, he'd say he'd won the bet, and it would be over.

"Out of the car, please," the man was saying, backing up to give us room, and my breath came faster. "Fingers laced above your heads. Now!"

We couldn't get through the gate. Not in the car. But maybe we could make a run for it if we got over it. Sweet, sweet adrenaline pounded into me, and my head started to hurt.

"Rache?" Jenks whispered. He, at least, would be safe.

Nick reached for the handle. "Get yourself out, Rachel," he said. "I'll take care of this."

"What are you doing?" I said, bewildered. "They know it isn't you!"

"Something I should have done a long time ago," he said, and I blinked when he leaned over to give me a chaste kiss. "Do what you need to do. I'll make a distraction so you can get away."

"What?" Ivy barked, and from outside, the security officer demanded we get out.

"I'll be fine," Nick said, opening his door. "I always am."

Stunned, I did nothing as someone opened my door and I was yanked out to the tune of Ivy fighting. A band of silver was slipped over my wrist, and I still did nothing. I felt a wash of ever-after flow out of me, but the curse was demonic, and I still looked like Ceri. Small favors.

"Rachel?" Jenks said, hovering before me.

People were shouting - mostly Ivy - and someone shoved me to the ground. My arms went out instinctively, and I caught myself. Staring at the shiny shoes to my right, something ignited in me. It was not going to end like this. I tensed, playing passive, hearing Ivy resisting.

"Rachlel!" Jenks cried again. "What do you want me to do?"

There were only two people watching me, the rest occupied with Ivy. "Tell Ivy to give them hell and meet me on the road," I said, and he darted away trailing silver dust.

Face scraping on the pavement, I looked the other way. Nick was on the ground, men screaming at him. I mouthed the words "Thank you," and he smiled. His attention went up, and I followed his gaze to Jax, looking like a silver mote high above it all. As I watched, the pixy dropped something.

"Ivy!" I shouted, clenching my eyes shut. "Down!"

I heard her drop, and the grunt of someone falling on her.

A boom of sound ripped through the night, shaking the ground I pressed into. My ears went numb, and I looked up, my hearing muffled. The two men watching me had collapsed to the pavement, out cold. Dust hung in the air, and what movement there was, was scattered.

I got up, awkward and clumsy. Ivy was pushing men off her, knocking them senseless as they tried to figure out what had happened. "Let's go!" I shouted, not hearing myself. People were starting to get up. We had seconds.

Staggering, I reached her. "Let's go!" I shouted again, almost getting hit when she didn't recognize me right off. Then I shrieked when she grabbed me and threw me over the gate.

I screamed, landing hard on the road. "Son of a bitch!" I said, only to be jerked to my feet by Ivy, her cast not slowing her down at all.

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