Aaron leaned in the doorway. “The witch sisters are legit members. Olivia and Odette O’Conner. They’ve—”

“Wait. O’Conner? Seriously? Their parents have a terrible sense of humor.”

He chuckled. “They’ve been with the coven for two years. Kai confirmed the fae disappearances, but we’re still unclear on why the other guilds are snubbing the bounty. He also talked to the matron, who swears up and down that our guild agreed to take on the job.”

Grinding my teeth at the last part, I twisted my hair into a messy bun and started pinning it in place. “What next?”

“Kai arranged a meeting with the matron for tomorrow afternoon. We’ll see how bold she is once we’re all in the same room. Philip is coming along too. He’s the unofficial leader of our five witches.”

My hands paused. “Dudes can be witches?”

“Yeah. Some covens are all women, though. Discriminatory, if you ask me.”

“Do they have something against male witches?”

“Nah, just an old tradition. Because Spiritalis magic is so ritualistic, witches are more superstitious than most classes.”

I reached into the drawer for a final bobby pin. “Time che—huh?”

Instead of bobby pins, I pulled a handful of small pine cones from the back of the drawer. “That faery!” I chucked the cones in the garbage and located a bobby pin. “Time check?”

“One minute left,” he informed me triumphantly. “You haven’t even started your makeup.”

Smiling smugly, I gave my frizzy bun a spritz of hairspray, then grabbed a tube of lip gloss and applied it in two swift strokes. After tossing it in the drawer, I turned to face him, hands on my hips. “Done.”

“What? No mascara? No blush or that skin-colored goop … uh … foundation?”

“Meh.” I arched an eyebrow. “Unless you think I need to wear makeup?”

His blue eyes skimmed my face, then followed my tight jeans from the curves of my hips down to my ankles. His smile was slow and sultry.

“No,” he rumbled. “Definitely not.”

He stepped into the bathroom and my heart skipped a beat. I subconsciously licked my lips, tasting the cherry gloss. His hands curled over my hips, drawing me closer, then he kissed me.

As his mouth leisurely moved across mine, I wound my arms around his neck, fingers sliding into his hair. Pressing against the hard planes of his torso, I let a soft moan slip from my throat.

He wrapped his arms around my waist and pushed me into the bathroom wall. His kiss deepened, laziness kindling into hunger. I parted my lips and his tongue flirted with mine. As heat spiraled through me, my hand crept from his neck to the top button of his shirt.

I popped it apart and slid my fingers under his shirt collar. His skin was hot. His mouth was even hotter. Arching off the wall, I pulled my mouth away to gasp in a breath. His lips slid along my jaw to my ear.

My blood was rushing and I tried to remember my reasons for keeping our clothes on. Couldn’t have been that important if I’d already forgotten them. Biting my lower lip as he kissed down the side of my neck, I undid the next button of his shirt.

The blare of a ringing phone shattered the quiet.

Jerking upright, Aaron swore. “I meant to turn it off. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I said breathlessly. “This isn’t a good time for you to be unreachable. Go ahead.”

With a black scowl, he dragged his phone out and lifted it to his ear.

“What?” he barked. A muffled voice replied, and his eyes widened. “No way. Right now? Well, shit.”

Disappointment sank through me in a cold wave. Glumly, I looked down at my pretty top and sexy jeans.

“Yeah,” Aaron muttered. “Okay. I’m on my way.”

Heaving a silent sigh, I tugged an uncomfortable bobby pin out of my hair, and a curly lock sagged free from my bun. It would be a night in after all—and not the fun, naughty kind. Mushu, Mulan, and I would have to make do without a scrumptious redhead for company. Without anyone for company.

“That was Kai,” Aaron told me, his brow creased as he shoved his phone in his pocket. “The O’Conner sisters just called. There’s activity in Stanley Park and they think it’s the black witches—or whoever the culprits behind the disappearances are.”

My eyes widened. “Are you going to check it out?”

“Yeah. Kai just ditched his date. He’s heading for the park, and I need to pick up Ezra.” He backed out of the bathroom and hastened across the main room. “We need to grab our gear and let the on-duty officer know—who’s on duty tonight? Tabitha, I think? Let her know where—”

He stopped abruptly and turned, distress creasing his forehead. “Tori …”

I forced a smile as I joined him. “It’s cool. I’m the reason you’re going, right? Go catch some bad guys.”

His brow furrowed even more, then he grinned. “Come with me.”


“Come with us!” He caught me around the waist and pulled me close. “Those O’Conner sisters are shifty, and we could use an extra pair of eyes on them.”

I bit my lip uncertainly. “Darius was clear. Jobs are for guild members only.”

“Rule number two.” He winked. “Besides, the witches involved you first.”

I considered that, debating whether he really wanted me along or if it was a pity invite. Probably both, but how much did I care? This might be my last chance to do mythic work with the guys—and maybe, if I got out there one more time, I’d figure out how I fit into their world.

“I’m in. Gimme one sec.”

I darted into my bedroom and opened my nightstand drawer. In it were three sorcery artifacts: my Queen of Spades card, stolen from a rogue sorcerer in my first violent mythic encounter; a fat ruby-red crystal on a leather tie, also stolen; and a very illegal spell set in a green crystal that I probably shouldn’t be hanging on to.

Weighing my options, I took the card and the ruby crystal and stuffed them in my pocket, leaving the extra taboo spell behind. I grabbed my black leather bomber jacket, then trotted back to Aaron.

“Okay, I’m ready.”

He caught the loose lock of my hair and twisted it around my bun, then brushed his fingers across my cheek. “I missed that.”

“Missed what?”

“Your smile. The real, happy one, not that fake one you put on.” My heart tumbled over itself, but his gaze was already sharpening with mischief. “Let’s kick some mythic ass.”

Chapter Seven

“We’re all set,” Ezra announced as he ended the call on his cell. “Tabitha gave the okay, and she’s putting Philip on standby as our Spiritalis backup.”

We were jammed in Aaron’s old sports car—Aaron driving, me in the passenger seat, and Ezra getting leg cramps in the back. Streetlights flashed by as we sped through the last Coal Harbor skyscrapers. We’d just passed the corner to Justin’s apartment building, and straight ahead was Stanley Park—a huge chunk of land connected to the northwestern tip of downtown and surrounded by ocean.

“Tabitha also mentioned that MagiPol came knocking again this evening,” Ezra added. “Another surprise search.”

“Assholes,” Aaron growled. “They know something is up and they aren’t letting it go.”

“Yeah,” Ezra agreed. “I wonder if their persistence has anything to do with their grudge against Darius.”

“What grudge?” I asked.

Ezra leaned over the center console. “Darius is always weaseling guildeds out of trouble. He knows the rule book front to back and he’s found all the loopholes.”

“Like last year,” Aaron mused, “when I burned that building down and Darius got me off on a technicality.”

This wasn’t the first time Aaron had mentioned burning a building to the ground. The pyromage was a walking insurance claim.

I had to ask. “What technicality?”

Aaron flashed me a grin. “Technically, I was destroying evidence of werewolf activity.”

“And we didn’t mention that, technically, the fire had been an accident,” Ezra added.

“I started the fire, but you blew burning debris all over the place.”

“I was blowing it at the werewolves. It was very effective. They hate fire.”

“That’s what I told Darius, but he still enrolled us in a fire safety course as punishment.” Aaron cast me a look of traumatic suffering. “It was full of middle-aged, corporate paper pushers. We had to do pretend evacuations.”

“We did a real evacuation too,” Ezra pointed out. “After you set off the smoke detector.”

Aaron shrugged. “I wanted to see how they would react.”

I choked on my laughter and ended up in a coughing fit. Wiping tears from my eyes, I asked, “Do you think Darius can get MagiPol off my back?”

“He’ll make it happen. The guy is a genius.”

“And a legend,” Ezra added with obvious admiration. “Him and Alistair.”

“Darius is a luminamage, right?” I asked, recalling our miraculous escape from the MPD agents. “How does that work exactly?”