CW: Adult Content, Graphic Language, & Violence

Name: Nick

Day/Time: Sunday, 10:38 PM

Current state of mind: Tired

What are you wearing? Jeans & a Henley

What are you listening to? ‘Till I Collapse by Eminem & Nate Dogg

What are you drinking? Bourbon

Where are you? Study

My life has been a nonstop shit show lately. For the past three weeks, I’ve been dealing with depraved demons, cursed witches, feuding neighbors, and warring covens. My body had grown accustomed to the cycle of chaos and perma-exhaustion. I’d gotten used to people running to me with all sorts of problems at all sorts of hours. So, when the supernatural circus stage-exited left, I knew the calm wouldn’t last. It never lasts.

After seven incident-free days, we hit up Illusion to celebrate. The exclusive nightclub was shit-packed despite the subzero temps and mountains of snow covering the city. Mother Nature hadn’t deterred the witches of Luna Cove from getting their drink on and forgetting all about their fucked-up lives for the night.

I relaxed back against the sofa, nursing my bourbon while Ryan and Daniel prattled on about basketball. I wasn’t paying much attention to their convo, as I scanned the sea of drunks, searching for a gorgeous, 5’10 blonde with spectacular legs.

Karina had been gone for a while now. She’d headed off in the direction of the restrooms when I last spotted her. I’m not gonna lie, I was concerned about her extended hiatus. And I had a damn good reason to be. Karina still carried a target on her back with plenty of power-starved assholes gunning for her. Each minute she was gone put me further on edge.

I tossed my bourbon back, slamming my glass down on the table and stalked off towards the private restrooms. I rounded the corner, spotting Karina texting on her phone. Relief flooded my lungs, the tension seeping from my muscles as I strolled over.

She turned, her mouth curving up in a stunning smile as she tucked her phone into her purse. I asked if she was okay. She was.

I tucked a stray curl behind her ear, twisting the silky strand between my fingers. Her sapphire blues heated as I cupped her cheek, running the pad of my thumb over her smooth skin. She stepped closer. Our gazes locked. And time stopped for a heartbeat.

Kari fisted my leather jacket, raising up on her tiptoes as I dipped my head, our lips colliding in a scorching kiss. She tasted like dark chocolate mixed with raspberries, her scent of vanilla and jasmine bathing me in swaths of Spring as her lithe body curved into mine. I pressed her up against the wall as she muttered something about people missing us against my mouth. My brain dismissed the words—my conscious not giving a single flying fuck about our absence as my tongue slipped between those luscious, pink lips of hers.

Lusty need pumped through my veins as her hips slowly ground against me, sending all my senses into overdrive. Sweet fucking gods. She was the one person who had the power to undo me—had the power to make me lose control. Her and her alone. No one fucking else.

I wanted her. Needed her. But it wasn’t just me in this dance for two. She was a part of it. And even though I sensed her need, I wanted her to vocalize it. She’d been silenced for far too long. I’d be damned if I was going to take that voice away from her, no matter how much I craved her. I wanted to hear that soft lilt of hers, wanted to feel her hot breath against my skin as she voiced her desires in my ear. And I was gonna make each of those fantasies come true.

Just as I leaned down, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I was tempted to ignore it—tempted to let the damn thing go to voicemail, but not many people had my direct line. If someone was calling me at eleven thirty at night, there was a problem.

Karina burrowed her head against my shoulder as I yanked my phone out, glancing at the screen. Raichel.

Fucking hell. I needed to change my number.

I answered the call, knowing damn well I was gonna regret it. After a couple of minutes of back and forth, I agreed to meet Raichel—at Cove Med Center.

The sliding glass doors parted before me, a gust of warm air hitting my face as I strode past security. The metal detectors shrieked in alarm, but no one stopped us. They never did. I owned the place, had it built from the ground up. Karina clutched my hand; Ryan and Ash were tight on our heels as we bypassed the reception desk and headed straight to the back, the staff bowing their heads in respect.

Naturally, Raichel was nowhere to be found. Can’t say I was surprised by her disappearing act. It didn’t matter, she wasn’t who I was looking for—

An exam room door flew open, and a kid with a hard head and the prowess of a clumsy linebacker plowed into me. I knew her. 

Abigail—“not Abby, never Abby”—as she’d introduced herself to me over the summer, was Aria’s age. She and her mom had moved to Luna Cove after escaping Abigail’s abusive father and his coven of twisted sycophants. I’d been the one who’d signed the divorce decree. I’d been the one who overruled the inept Council, granting her mom full custody. And I’d been the one to sign the asshole’s death warrant.

Abigail craned her neck up, her pale green eyes flaring wide with relief, as a flurry of words tumbled from her mouth. Amidst the verbal spillage, I caught “mom” and “help.” The rest was a muddled mystery. I stopped her mid-ramble. She wasn’t making any damn sense. And I got that she was scared. I understood that she was worried. She was just a kid, for fuck’s sake. But kid or not, I needed her to ease up and tell me what happened. I couldn’t help anyone without any details.

It took a couple of minutes to calm Abigail down, but once I did, I got the info I needed. Her dad had rolled into town and was looking for another round with his favorite punching bag. That wasn’t gonna happen.

I was gonna kill her father, and not lose a second of sleep over it. And it’s not because I don’t feel. I do. I just have no qualms with murdering motherfuckers who get their kicks from beating and terrorizing their families. I’d been hunting the elusive asshole for months. And now, he’d bounced into my backyard without saying hello first? Rude.

I tugged my gloves on, pulling the black leather over my hands, when gun shots rang out. Screams erupted down the hall, muffling the “code silver” announced over the PA system. A hostage situation. Oh goody. It’d been a hot fucking minute since I’d been involved in one of those.

I brushed my lips against Kari’s forehead, squeezing her hand in reassurance before releasing her. I hated leaving her, but I had to. I watched as she and Ash ushered Abigail back into the exam room. The teenager would be safe with them.

I traded glances with Ryan, and the two of us hauled ass down the maze of hallways. Nurses and doctors and techs scrambled past us in the opposite direction, securing patients and locking everything down. As we rounded the corner, we ran into one of the intake clerks, who was hightailing it away from the front desk. She’d had a front row seat to the entire shit show. Ryan and I questioned her, gathering as much intel as we could. And the little information she’d provided had been invaluable.

Abigail’s father was the ringleader of the shit show circus. He pounded on the doors, ranting about seeing his daughter and killing his ex—who he had critically injured. The asshole had also wounded a security guard and an innocent bystander in the process of commandeering the waiting room. That made three victims so far. I wasn’t going for a fourth.

Ryan and I needed to come up with a plan of attack and fast. Time was against us. Tick. Fucking. Tock.

Magic was officially off the table. The hospital had been warded against it, with healing magic being the only exception. We’d be doing things the old-fashioned way. Thank fuck, we were both armed.

We killed the lights and lured the asshole to us. Abigail’s father stepped through the automatic doors, his gun raised, finger on the trigger. I stilled, gripping my dagger tight as I waited for my prey to pass. And just as he did, Ryan sprang up behind him, disarming the fucker in a series of quick and fluid motions.

Ryan held him in a chokehold as I emerged from the curtained exam room. The asshole’s eyes flashed with fear as he struggled against Ryan. I shot the depraved asshole a cold smile and drove my blade into his heart. His body twitched like he’d been electrocuted. Once. Twice. Then he went limp.

Ryan dropped the dead weight, and we cleared the code. The ER came back to life, and I raced into the lobby, spotting Abigail’s mom bleeding out onto the white tile. I sank down next to her, hitting her with some of my healing power. Karina joined me, kneeling across from me as her power melded with mine. We worked in tandem, mending the wounds, and repairing what we could until the trauma team took over. Abigail’s mom would survive.

I needed to talk to Abigail, but I needed to decompress first. I needed air. I stepped outside and lit a cigarette, taking a deep drag of the sweet, mystical tobacco. I leaned against the brick wall, enjoying the stillness of the late night.

The door burst open, and Karina stepped out. She heaved out a sigh and smiled, tilting her head up at the cloudy sky. “It’s snowing.”

I followed her gaze, noticing the finite flurries for the first time. I put my cigarette out and wrapped my arms around her, holding her tight. Karina rested her head against my chest, enveloping her arms around my waist. Our peace had shattered, but at least we had this moment. At least we had each other. That’s all for story time.

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