Excerpt from WITCH HEART © 2009, Anya Bast.
Adam noticed women. All the time.
Even when he’d been deeply and insanely in love with his wife, he’d noticed them. He’d never been unfaithful in his life, but no woman escaped his eye. Claire was very attractive in a pixie-like way. She was small, which made him instantly want to protect her.
His stomach tightened. He wondered what she’d had to endure in her life. It couldn’t have been easy to survive as the only elemental witch on Eudae.
Her eyes popped open to find his in the rearview mirror. Their gazes caught, locked. Adam almost fell into the power of her blue eyes. Oh, there was a lot to this woman…much more than he’d seen so far.
“They’re near,” she whispered. Her voice in the quiet sent a shiver up his spine.
Theo straightened and Adam snapped to attention, glimpsing the slow moving headlights of a car on the road behind them, just barely visible through the foliage.
“Fuck,” he murmured. They were trolling for them. The demons knew they’d gone to ground. The car rolled slowly past them and he let out the breath of air he’d been holding.
Then the car stopped.
Claire turned in her seat to watch through the leaves. They could see nothing but swatches of light, but the low idle of the SUV’s engine reached their ears.
The vehicle backed up a little and stopped on the road parallel to their position.
“Out,” said Theo in his low, gravelly voice. “We need to get out now.”
He was right, there was nowhere for Adam to move the car. He’d gone all in for this poker game, tried for a bluff. Apparently he’d lost. “Yeah.”
Quietly, they opened the doors and slid out. Claire grabbed their sword sheaths and handed them over to Adam and Theo once they were clear of the car. Behind them, the SUV’s engine stopped.
Leaves and dead plant matter crunching under their feet, they made their way into the darkening gloom. The chill in the air kissed their skin and showed their breath white in the early spring air.
As they hunkered behind some brush, Claire shivered beside him. Adam channeled a little heat, the seat of his magick in the center of his chest pulsing a bit, and sent it through his arms, hands and chest. Then he pulled Claire toward him, wrapping her in a close embrace. She stiffened against him at first and started to push away, but then melded to his body like warmed candle wax.
More footsteps on the winter dead Wisconsin ground. Demon footsteps. Growing nearer and nearer.
Motionless, Claire in his arms, Adam watched through the brush as the demons approached the car. One had his hand on the trunk. The other one, the tall blond one, was nearing the driver’s side.
Pulling away from Claire, Adam stood and shot a fire bolt in the direction of the car’s gas tank. It hit in a white hot explosion.
Thomas’s ninety thousand dollar car blew up, the demons along with it.
“Oh, Houses,” Claire breathed, shooting up to stand beside him.
Adam didn’t know what houses had to do with anything.
She cringed against him, covering her eyes from the brightness of the blaze, and Adam held her close, protecting the side of her head with his hand.
Theo’s lips curved in a rare smile. “Nice shot. Don’t know how the bossman will feel about it, but nice shot all the same.”
Adam grinned cheerfully. “Thanks. Let’s just hope those bozos left the keys in the SUV. Otherwise, we’ve got a long walk.”
Theo’s grin deepened. “No. I can hot wire it.”
Adam cast him a sidelong look and mocked, “Why Theodosius Winters, I declare! You shock me!”
Apparently Theo’s short stint of verbosity had come to an end. He simply strode forward, toward the crispy demons.
Adam and Claire followed. They had to get out of here before the fire was noticed.
As they skirted the vehicle, Adam increased the heat of the fire. He wanted no trace of that car left to lead back to Thomas Monahan or the Coven.
“God, demon magick is putrid,” said Theo. “I had hoped to never again have that stink in my nose.”
“You’re not the only one,” Adam answered.
Theo raised his hand, also expending magick to clear a ring around the sedan with his earth abilities. It ensured the fire couldn’t jump to the nearby trees and bushes. True, this area had received a lot of moisture recently, but better safe than sorry.
The authorities would no doubt wonder about the strange ring, but humans were notorious for finding plausible answers for implausible occurrences.
The two demons had been thrown back in the explosion and now lay burned and smoking not far from the vehicle. Damn it. Adam had been sure they’d been mostly incinerated in the initial blast. One of the demon’s legs was on fire. Both lay at unnatural angles, eyes open.
Maybe this whole thing would be over before it had even begun and they could get back to the Coven. Although they needed to do something with the bodies. Humans found answers for the implausible, sure, but if they decided to do an autopsy on these guys…. There wasn’t any explaining away acidic blood.
“They’re not dead, Adam. Even though they look it,” said Claire as they passed. “They’ve gone into a type of coma that happens when their kind sustains a bad injury. They’re regenerating right now and they’ll probably recover.”
Adam stopped short, remembering Thomas and Isabelle telling him of the motorcycle crash that Isabelle had initiated in an attempt to kill the last Atrika. Erasmus Boyle had lain prone on the road for a time too–thought dead before he’d woken up and poofed Isabelle right out of Thomas’s arms.
“Really? Fuck.” He pushed a hand through his hair and tried to mask his disappointment. “That sucks. I guess thinking this could be over quick was too optimistic. The Terminator has nothing on these guys.”
Claire just frowned at him and he realized that pop culture references were a little lost on her.
He drew his sword from the sheath he carried. “Then let’s make sure we give them a wound they can’t recover from.” He grinned. “These fuckers might be immortal, but I want to see one try to re-grow its head. Theo, please take Claire to the SUV. I’ll be right there.”
Theo guided Claire away and Adam turned toward the prone demons. This wouldn’t take long. Just a little chop here and one over there, heads would roll, and he would duck the spraying acidic blood. Then he would puke, and they could all go back to Chicago. It was a great plan.
Simple. Clean. Efficient. Perfect.
The thing blinked and his eyes focused on him. A hand snaked out and grabbed his leg.
Sword grip clenched in his hand he approached the one whose leg was doing its best to burn to ash and tried not to gag from the stench of baked demon. Ironically, according Micah’s sources, they would love the aroma of cooking aeamon. Probably serve it up with chutney and a nice white wine.
He stood near Demon One’s head, feet spread, and readied his sword for a death blow. The thing’s blue eyes stared blankly up at him. He sure as fuck looked deceased. Adam raised his sword. Damn it! He’d betrayed a cardinal rule of horror movies and now he paid for it! Never go near the monster, even if it looked dead.
Adam brought his sword down fast and hard, but the demon let go of him and rolled to the side. His blade bit soil and dead leaves. From his left, movement caught his eye. The other demon was moving too.
Damn short comas.
Tires slid on the ground behind him. He whirled to see the back door pop open and Claire, pale-faced, motioning to him. “Come on! Get in!”
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