Darius slid under next, followed by Ezra, and together we hastened through the empty kitchen. Darius pushed the back door open and balmy night air rushed in.

Ezra puffed out a breath. “Well, that was fun.”

I looked between him and Darius. “Uh, how did no one notice us?”

Darius winked. “Trade secret, darling.”

My mouth went slack. Darling?

“He’s a luminamage,” Ezra told me. “Concealment is his forte.”

Darius frowned as though Ezra had spoiled his game, then glanced at the door. “It’s time I make an appearance for dear Agent Harris. You two get moving.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. “For now, Tori, you’ll need to take a holiday from work. We’ll be in touch once the heat is off.”


“Take her home, Ezra. And you should stay out of sight as well.”

“Yes, sir.”

As Darius backtracked into the kitchen, Ezra linked our hands and pulled me across the small lot toward Aaron’s old red sports car. He dug out the keys and bounced them on his palm, then asked, “You drive, don’t you? I try to limit my driving to emergencies.”

“This doesn’t count?” I reluctantly took the keys from him. “Let’s hope I’m not too rusty.”

We climbed into the car. I adjusted the mirrors, half expecting the MPD agents to burst through the doors, then reversed the car out of its spot and pulled into the sporadic traffic. It felt weird. I hadn’t driven in a year and my shit-mobile had handled like a geriatric barge compared to this old but eager speedster.

At least I wasn’t stranding Aaron at the guild. Considering the amount of whiskey he’d consumed, he would’ve been walking home anyway.

As the three-story building disappeared from the rearview mirror, I tried to contain the shivering dread in my gut. Funny thing was, the threat of MPD charges wasn’t what had my hands quivering.

“It’s over, isn’t it?” I whispered.

Ezra twisted in his seat so he could see me with his good eye. “What’s over?”

“Everything.” I swallowed painfully. “The MPD found out about me. Darius will have to fire me, and I’ll never be allowed back …”

I’d known from day one that my employment at the guild was temporary. The MPD didn’t allow humans and guilds to mix except under specific circumstances—criteria the Crow and Hammer couldn’t meet. My job had been supposed to last a few weeks at most, but it had somehow stretched into months, and I’d gotten really good at not thinking about the future.

“No,” Ezra said sharply. “Darius won’t give up that easily. He’ll fight to keep you, Tori.”

“But what can he do? He can’t break the rules indefinitely.”

“I don’t know, but Darius will figure it out. Have some faith.” He lightly brushed my shoulder. “Even if you lose your job, you won’t lose us.”

My fingers tightened on the wheel, my aching heart threatening to split. How I wanted to believe him, but I’d experienced this scenario too many times. No matter how friendly I was with coworkers or customers, once I lost my job and our only connection was severed, the friendships fizzled out in a matter of weeks.

Ezra studied my profile, then leaned back. “All the MPD knows is that a red-haired woman called Patricia Erickson participated in a single interrogation. We’ll come up with an explanation that’ll send them searching elsewhere for ‘Patricia.’”

“Like what?”

“Kai has a few ideas.” At my surprised look, he added, “We were expecting this. It’s why I got out of sight too. Darius doesn’t like us being taken into custody. It makes negotiating more difficult.”

I pulled up to the curb in front of my place—then realized this might not be the correct destination. “Oh! Should I take you home first?”

“No, this is fine. I can drive now—it’s all quiet streets from here.”

Leaving the keys in the ignition, I climbed out.

“We might have to delete your contact info again,” he warned as he met me in front of the hood. “MagiPol has been known to surprise-inspect our phones.”

“Right. Sure.”

“We’ll let you know as soon as it’s safe. Hopefully, it won’t be long.”


“Tori,” he sighed.

Stepping closer, he pulled me into a hug. I buried my face in his shirt. Damn, the man smelled heavenly. Whatever soap or cologne he used was worth every penny.

“This is only temporary, I promise.” His voice rumbled through his chest and into mine. Too soon for my liking, he released me. “I need to get going. Will you be okay?”

“You bet,” I said brightly.

He searched my face, and I rather doubted my optimistic tone had fooled him. Just in case it had, I held on to the smile as he slid into the car. The engine growled to life, and with a final wave through the window, he pulled away. I watched the taillights disappear around the corner.

No matter what he said, what he promised, my heart believed that had been our last hug. Tonight had been the last silent joke I would share with Kai, exchanged with nothing more than a glance. Tonight had been my last kiss from Aaron, stolen across the bar top when no one had been looking.

Sabrina’s tarot card flashed in my mind’s eye. The Fool, blindly stepping off a cliff. The warning, so clear but too late.

Standing alone on the sidewalk, I stared at the spot where the car had vanished and wished this magical dream could have lasted longer.

Chapter Three

A wave of air conditioning rushed over me as I walked into the coffee shop. Getting in line, I watched the baristas with interest. Hmm, barista. Not a job I’d tried before, but I could learn. After three days of radio silence from the guys and the guild, I was contemplating desperate measures. Rent wouldn’t pay itself.

With an iced latte and a cranberry muffin in hand, I chose a window seat. Absently watching the passersby on the sidewalk outside, I nibbled on my muffin and waited.

The door jingled and a man walked in, his dark blue uniform and the gun holstered on his belt catching the eye of every patron. I waved and he gave a quick nod, then stepped into line. A minute later, he dropped into the seat beside me and unwrapped a thick slice of banana bread.

I nudged him with an elbow. “At least say hello before you stuff your face.”

“Hewwo foree,” he managed through a bulging mouthful. He swallowed hastily. It looked like a challenge. “Sorry. I haven’t had lunch yet.”

“How’s the shift going?”

When his shoulders sagged forward, concern sparked through me. Justin wasn’t a mere cop. He was my older brother, and anything that made him unhappy made me unhappy.

“I didn’t get the promotion,” he muttered. “They chose someone else.”

“Bastards,” I growled, slamming my latte down. “How could they pass you over? You graduated top of the academy, you work like a dog, you take every shift they give you no matter how shitty—”

“Thanks, Tori,” he interrupted with a wan smile, knowing my rant would only gain momentum if he let me go on too long. “I’ll have to aim for the next one.”

I shredded my muffin wrapper. “Why would they snub you like this? Do you know?”

A grimace, almost hidden behind his short beard, contorted his mouth. “I think I was asking too many questions.”

“Questions? About what?”

“About … certain rules. Stuff I didn’t know about until after I joined the force.” He glanced around, suddenly tense. “I can’t actually talk about it. I signed an NDA.”

A chill washed over me. Special rules. Something he wasn’t allowed to discuss. Oh.

The mythic community kept well out of the public eye, but law enforcement was a big exception. The MPD had made … special arrangements for mythics. Their ID cards were marked with an MID number, and police weren’t allowed to arrest anyone who carried one. Instead, they had to take down the person’s information and submit it to the MPD.

I’d wondered how much the average cop knew about mythics, but for some idiotic reason, I hadn’t clued in that my brother, as a police officer, would be in on the secret. How much did he know?

Justin forced a smile. “Enough about me. How’s work going? Do you have a shift this evening?”

I wanted to back the conversation up and quiz him on his knowledge of magic, but that would raise all sorts of alarm bells. Better to leave it for now.

Then again, that meant talking about my work.

“I’m on leave,” I said lightly. “They’re doing renos at the bar, so I get a mini vacation.”

“Time off? Nice. I hope you’re getting holiday pay.”

“Yep,” I lied guiltily.

“What about … that guy?” Justin wrinkled his nose like he was asking about my digestive health. “Aaron?”

“What about him?”

“Aren’t you two dating?”

My expression froze. I quickly smiled. “Sort of. Casually, I guess. Nothing serious.”

The furrow in Justin’s brow reappeared. “You’ve mentioned dates with him over the past few weeks.”