Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(90) by Ilona Andrews
Hugh’s form was almost solid.
Curran snarled. His fingers opened. The earring fell and I caught it with my gauntleted hand.
Power tore through me, flinging open doors inside my mind. Every secret place, every hidden memory, every guilty thought, it knew them all instantly. It savaged my soul.
I took a step. Far ahead of me flame streamed down from Bahir, lapping at the circle’s boundary, binding him and the box into one. He was holding the portal open.
Twenty yards left. Dear God.
Tears streamed down my face.
You can’t defeat your father, the voice whispered inside me. I can help you. I will give you power unlike any you have ever witnessed.
Agony racked me. Another step. My hair was burning.
I will give you his head. You will never have to worry about him killing anyone again.
A vision swirled in my mind: my father’s grave, Julie smiling, Curran kissing me, as we stood in the middle of paradise, happy, free, and safe.
I will free you from these shackles. I will lift you into the sweet air above and let you breathe. I will stop all pain. Take my hand.
Another step. Bahir and his circle were so impossibly far. So very far.
All you have to do is take my hand.
“Do you love me?” Curran asked.
Of course I love you.
“Give me the earring.”
No. The pain gripped me, threatening to pull me to my knees. No. Stay with me. Stay!
I loved him. I would do anything for him. I had to give him the earring.
I let it fall.
Curran caught the chunk of gold. I collapsed on my knees into the giantess’s blood.
Curran took a slow step forward. I dragged myself up, sobbing. He would need me after he took that second step.
It took him thirty seconds to make it. He looked almost dead by the time he had done it and when I asked, he gave the earring to me. I took it, welcoming an eternity of pain.
We walked, two steps at a time. I fell once and had to crawl through the blood, but we were moving. The circle grew closer.
Look into your future. Look into the very depths of your heart. You know what your father wants.
The circle was almost within reach.
A vision thrust into my mind.
He is hiding the future from you. But my power is too great. I can see him. Let me show you what I see . . .
The world disappeared. A hill rolled in front of me, emerald grass under the blue sky. Roland stood on its crest. He was holding a baby.
Magic crashed against me, a familiar yet different magic coming from the child, so strong, it took my breath away.
My son had Curran’s gray eyes.
It was the truth. I felt the connection between us stretching through time. I felt the love I had poured into my child. My baby.
My son reached for me . . .
Roland smiled and turned, taking the baby away.
I screamed. He couldn’t. It was our child. My life, my soul, everything I hoped for.
This is what he wants. This is what he always wanted. You know it to be true. He will take your son. He will use your child to control you. He will turn him into a monster. You cannot stop it.
“Put the earring into the box, baby,” Curran said next to me. “You can do it.”
But I can stop it. I will stop it. Don’t you love your baby? Don’t you want to keep him safe?
I would keep him safe. I would. I don’t need you.
Yes, you do. You can’t beat him alone.
I don’t need you.
“I don’t need you. I don’t need you. You have no power over me.” I heard my own voice and realized I was screaming.
You will die and rot without me. Your family will rot. Everyone you love will be slaughtered. Take my hand and I will give you eternal power.
I opened my fingers.
The earring plunged down, bounced from the rim of the box, and fell into the circle. I had fallen short.
George’s hand closed about the gold. The werebear screamed, her face distorted, her eyes terrible. She clenched her teeth. The muscles on her arm were ready to rip. A second arm began to form over her stump.
With a guttural cry, George shoved herself forward and dropped the earring into the box. A burst of fire shot out of the small container. Eduardo loomed above it, the lid in his hand. The fire bathed him, burning his arms.
Eduardo pushed the lid down. The jet of fire held it up, fighting him. Eduardo strained. The lid slid down a hair, then another hair.
“You can do it, son,” Bahir called out.
Eduardo strained. Monstrous muscle bulged on his arms. “You have nothing I want!” he roared, and slammed the lid down.
Magic shoved me back. The complicated lines of the circle spun, turning, like layers of an intricate lock coming undone.
A horrible scream tore through the night. I slapped my hands over my ears.
The ground opened inside the circle and the box sank, shooting down like a bullet out of a gun, deep into the darkness. Magic snapped and all was quiet.
I SIPPED MY iced tea, holding the glass in my left hand. The right still had no skin under the bandages, despite a week of Doolittle’s careful ministrations, but he said in another ten days or so my hand would recover. He’d also said a few other choice words that I didn’t know were in his vocabulary. He sat at the other table now watching Eduardo and George slow dancing their way around the lawn. George looked lovely in a pure white dress. Eduardo was still too thin and probably should have been on bed rest still, but trying to outstubborn a werebear and a werebuffalo was a losing proposition.
Eduardo had told me about fifteen times that he was grateful for the rescue. George kept hugging me. She also sent chocolate to our house. They were moving in on the other side of Barabas’s house, which meant I would see them often. If either of them told me “thank you” one more time, I would have to run away from home.
I moved my head to toss my braid back before I remembered it wasn’t there. The heat from the ifrit had melted all my hair. It was barely touching my shoulders now, and it drove me nuts.
Across the lawn Mahon sat at the table, his hand over his face. I was pretty sure he had teared up and didn’t want anyone to know. Bahir sat at the same table, looking slightly out of place. He and Eduardo had spoken. Things weren’t quite smoothed over, but George said she remained hopeful.
In the past week, spring had exploded in Atlanta. Everything had turned green, as if nature rejoiced in the ifrit’s banishment. Flowers bloomed and the apple blossoms in the tall vases on the white-clothed tables sent a gentle aroma into the warm air. I was so glad George and Eduardo had decided on an open-air wedding instead of trying to pack fifteen hundred people into the Keep’s main hall.
A hand slid down my back.
“Hey,” Curran said.
“Hey.” I leaned against him. He put his arm around me.
“Everyone is getting married,” he said.
“We should, too.”
In my mind I saw my father on the grassy hill, walking away with our child in his arms. I wrapped my arm around his back, hoping his strength would chase it away. “I thought we agreed we would. You asked, I said yes, we are all good.”
“Yes, but it was theoretical. Let’s set a date. An actual date.”
“I don’t know, how does the sixth of June sound?”
“Ivan Kupala night? The night when everything goes crazy in Slavic pagan folklore?”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online