Home > Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(5)

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(5)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

“Done,” he said at once.

He seemed so confident. He even smiled with the kind of anticipation I’d seen only on gladiators right before they struck a killing blow. Was it possible I’d made another mistake? He’d already surprised me several times today.

But no. He couldn’t best me in this.

“Done,” I said after a slight pause.

His smile turned sly. “How shall we seal this new accord? A blood oath?”

As if I’d assume his shedding a few drops of blood would suddenly make him honest. “Something else. Hold out your hand.”

He arched a brow but extended a still soapy hand. I closed my fingers around his, not surprised that his flesh felt far warmer than a vampire’s normal temperature. His time in the shower had heated his skin, and now, that water would provide me with what I needed to ensure an oath he couldn’t break.

Water was one of the main natural elements of the world. That made it powerful, if one knew how to extract that power. I did since I had a special talent with water. I hadn’t wanted to use more of my hidden abilities today, but if I didn’t, I’d soon be fighting off attacks from my duplicitous ally in addition to the ones that would be coming from Dagon.

A ripple of energy flashed through the room when I began to speak in an ancient language, the first one I’d learned. That energy settled on our joined hands. Ian hissed when he felt it.

“What are you doing? And why are you speaking Sumerian?”

I wasn’t about to answer either of those questions. In truth, I hadn’t expected him to recognize the long-dead language. Not that it mattered. These words weren’t significant.

Ian tried to pull his hand away. The spell I was creating trapped him. It wrapped around me, too, feeling inside us for the promises we’d both just made. When it found them, it tightened our hands together. Then I felt its energy crest before it slid beneath my skin to dissolve inside my bones.

Once it did, I opened my eyes. “Now neither of us has a choice about keeping our latest promise. The spell found them, and if one of us were to renege on them, it would rot our bones faster than either of us could heal.”

Chapter 4

Ian’s eyes were lit up with emerald, and the muscle ticking in his jaw showed how displeased he was by this turn of events. But when he spoke, his voice was light, and instead of trying to pull his hand away, his fingers now caressed mine.

“A Law Guardian who practices forbidden magic. How irresistibly hypocritical of you.”

I wasn’t about to tell him I’d learned this spell well before the vampire council had outlawed magic. Or that more than a few Law Guardians were versed in at least mid-level magic. Otherwise, how were we supposed to go after rogue practitioners when even an amateur would be able to take us down?

“Now we each have something on the other,” I replied.

His lips curled. “No one would believe me and you know it.”

True, but . . . “You know a bigger secret about me. Even if you weren’t believed by the vampire council, it would still present problems if word of my stopping time reached the wrong ears.”

His smile only grew. “Subtlety doesn’t suit you. Just tell me you’ll kill me if I reveal your secrets.”

“Fine. I’ll kill you and it will hurt,” I said bluntly.

He laughed and chucked me under the chin. “As I said before, that’s the spirit.”

Ian seemed as entertained by my threat to kill him as he’d been when he thought I was about to go down on him. He might be morally bankrupt, chronically dishonest, and inexplicably dangerous, but he was also . . . fun. That, or my spirits were lifted by the knowledge that, if all went as planned, Ian was going to bring many people their long-awaited justice.

Before I could get to that . . . “There’s one more thing we need to do before we leave,” I said, taking Ian’s silver knife and a small pouch from my back pocket.

Ian eyed the pouch with more interest than the knife. “What’s in that?”

“Salts.” I put the stopper in the sink before I dumped the tricolored salts into it. Then I cut my wrist with the knife, willing my blood out from the wound.

I had the amount I needed before the cut healed. Vampires might not have beating hearts, but we did control the flow of blood in our bodies. As my final ingredient, I laid the knife on top of the now-bloody salts.

Ian leaned against the shower wall. “Salt, blood, and silver. If you had ink and the proper tools, I’d think you were about to attempt a demon-repelling warding tattoo.”

“How do you know about those?” I asked without looking up. The spell I’d cast meant I didn’t need to keep a constant watch on him now.

“I pissed Dagon off decades ago, yet he didn’t find me until I summoned him this past month. Think my avoiding him was nothing more than luck?”

Now I did glance up. “You warded yourself against Dagon using a locator spell to find you?”

An auburn brow arched. “Him and every other demon that might try that. Demons can be loyal sods. If you wrong one of them, many of the rest are all too happy to deliver you up to the offended party.”

I thought I was done being surprised by him. Wrong again. “How do you know so much about demons? Vampires and demons are normally hostile toward each other, but only another demon could have taught you a warding symbol that powerful. Why would one?”

His grin was instant. “I’m that good.”

Oh, I could just imagine. I could even see it for myself, if I wanted to look up one of the many sex videos he’d posted online. Thankfully, I had more important things to do.

“If that’s the case, why didn’t you ward yourself again after Dagon branded you?”

“Tried.” Ian’s grin remained despite his tone turning flat. “Three times. One moment, the artist would be starting to ink the necessary wards over the brands. The next, I’d be covered in the artist’s butchered remains while Dagon danced around me. Didn’t matter that I’d started each attempt inside a private residence. Also didn’t matter that each time, it had been daylight. The salt walls I’d built around myself also did nothing. Each time, I suddenly found myself in a new place, covered in gore, with Dagon laughing his demonic arse off.”

Against any other demon, his precautions would have been enough. Movies portrayed vampires as being unable to walk in the sun. That wasn’t true. Vampires also didn’t need to be invited in to enter a private residence. But those things were true for demons, and salt burned them like acid, so a salt wall should have been impenetrable to Dagon.

Dagon’s ability to stop time meant that he had a way around all that. “Dagon probably felt the weakening in his tie to you after the first few lines of the warding tattoo,” I said. “It would only take him moments to use the link to teleport to your location, stop time around you and the tattooists, then retreat out of the sun. With all of you trapped, Dagon could summon a non-demon mercenary, send him inside the home to knock down the salt walls, bring you and the tattoo artists out, then have all of you brought to whatever dark, safe place he wanted.”

“Where he killed the artists and decorated me with their corpses.” Ian gave a pointed look at the ingredients in the sink before looking back at me. “Still want to attempt that tattoo?”

He was warning me about the danger. How unexpectedly sweet. But I had no intention of giving Dagon enough time to find Ian.

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