Urban extinction a new a.., p.11
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       Urban Extinction: A New Adult Paranormal Fantasy, p.11

           K.N. Lee
 
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  Egan

  The mention of witchcraft made Egan’s blood boil. She and Livia had often been subjected to the witches’ craft at Psi-3898. Witches—not the good kind—had honed their skills trying to best Egan and Livia in their abilities. They’d cast spells against her and Livia. Hurled their incantations at them. Caused them pain to break them. Egan had never erased the memories of their foul spells and devilry, and she was certain the same was true for Livia. Yet, here she stood with signs of that evil magic all around her. Her heart sank to her toes.

  In the center of this windowless, industrial looking room, the five bodies were positioned in a circle, with their feet in the middle. A pentagram had been drawn around them with salt. Their heads marked the corners of the pentagram. Each body seemed to be hovering right at the edge of death, as if nothing but a silver filament kept them tethered to their earthly existence. Huge, black candles were placed in the corner of the room. They threw off a sickening glow, making the place a study in shadows.

  “Egan?” Livia’s voice came out in a tremulous whisper. “Egan, honey?”

  A gentle hand shook her shoulder, tugging Egan from her trance. She gave Livia a side-eyed glance accompanied by a soft smile.

  “I’m here,” she whispered. “This is…this is just awful.”

  Then, she turned to glare at the two despicable people before her—Renner and Alicia Saunders—the woman they thought as dead. I watched her head snap…her body crumple.

  We both did, Livia projected.

  And you’re certain you killed her, right?

  I thought so, but maybe I was wrong. Livia’s eyes were wide.

  “Oh, good,” Renner said. Dressed in a crisp suit and tie, he proffered his crooked elbow to Alicia.

  She placed a gloved hand on his arm.

  Together, they swished into the room looking like a couple attending the opera.

  What’s going on here? Egan’s brow pulled low.

  I don’t know, but we had better find the source of it. I think I’m going to throw up if we stay here. This is so sick.

  It’s sure bizarre. But how do you factor into all this?

  I don’t know. Livia’s chin quivered.

  Egan pictured saving her friend from jumping off a building and shooting herself.

  Sharp jabs of anger roiled through her insides. She turned to Renner and shouted, “What did you do to my friend? What kind of spell did you cast on Livia?”

  “Egan, don’t,” Livia hissed.

  Egan waved a hand at her, without looking.

  Renner grinned in response. “We took her skills to a new level, that’s all.”

  “New level? She almost died—twice!” Without thinking, Egan put both her hands out and shoved him. Fire shot from her palms, licking at his torso.

  He stumbled back, and Alicia tried to break his fall.

  Renner caught himself before crashing into the wall behind him. He leaned forward, lifted his arms, and mumbled something unintelligible.

  Egan’s skin grew instantly hot, as if her skills had turned on herself. Wide-eyed, she shook them until they began to cool.

  “Consider that a warning,” Renner said, a chilling smile forming on his lips. “Your skills…both of your skills…are not as powerful as mine have become.”

  He brushed the front of his jacket, smoothing it into place.

  “Are you okay?” Alicia cooed, her hands fluttering around his face like tiny birds.

  He turned and gave her an indulgent smile, stroking her cheek with the back of his hand. “I’m fine. They can’t hurt me. Don’t worry.”

  She floated into the air a few feet, as if the touch of him made her light with joy. A dreamy smile appeared on her face.

  Egan stared at the whole charade for a few seconds, watching it like it was a play put on for her and Livia’s benefit. “Quit the theatrics. Tell me. What did you do to Livia?” She reached out for Livia’s hand.

  Livia's squeeze bore down hard, drawing pain in Egan’s fingers.

  “I’m waiting.”

  Renner cocked his head and studied her. Then he turned and fixed his eyes on Livia.

  Livia shrank back, as if he’d touched her.

  Egan put her arms around her. She glared at Renner. “Whatever you’re doing, stop.”

  Livia murmured, “I’m okay, Egan, really.”

  “I’m not doing anything,” Renner said. “She’s scared. She knows a superior being when she sees one.”

  A smug expression replaced the cold one. He clasped his hands behind his back and began walking. His footfalls echoed against the corrugated metal walls and concrete floor.

  Alicia floated next to him.

  Egan stepped back, clutching Livia’s arm for support.

  You can sense it, too, can’t you? Livia’s fingers curled into fists. He’s grown stronger since we last saw him. This can’t be good.

  “You still haven’t answered my question,” Egan said, releasing Livia’s arm. She stretched her cramped fingers.

  Renner stalked around the bodies, Alicia by his side.

  “Tell Livia what she needs to hear, won’t you?” he said to his floating companion. “She’s pretending to be clueless.”

  Alicia let out a ghostly laugh and directed her attention toward Livia. “You’re cursed, darling.”

  A bitter laugh fell from Egan’s lips. “We were cursed the day we were thrown into Psi-3891. We escaped, however.”

  Livia put her hand out to Egan, shushing her. Her face creased. “Cursed? What do you mean?”

  Alicia spun about, floating in front of Livia. Her face transformed into an ugly snarl. “That’s what you get when you kill a witch.”

  “What are you talking about? You’re not dead.” The lines in Livia’s forehead deepened.

  “Of course not, sweetie. That’s what all of this has been about,” Alicia said. “You’ve become a forecaster. Anything can happen, at any time, once the curse of the forecaster is upon you.” She bobbed back and forth in front of Livia.

  “You’re speaking in riddles.” Egan threw her hands in the air. “Tell us what the hell is going on.”

  She grabbed Alicia’s arm and yanked her from her annoying hover.

  Alicia’s mouth fell open as her feet slammed onto the concrete floor. She hauled back her arm and slapped Egan, hard. While Egan reeled with pain, Alicia shouted, “Get her! Get the witch!”

  The witch? Egan shook off the assault, trying to get her wits about her.

  Renner spun around. He hooked and arm around Livia’s waist.

  Egan lunged. “Let her go.” She stomped on his high-end loafers with her boot.

  Yanking her hair with his free hand, he yelled. “You bitch!”

  Egan cried out, as the sharp tug of her hair sent bee sting spasms shooting through her scalp.

  Livia clawed at his cheeks, letting her sharp, purple-painted nails rake his skin.

  Renner’s hands went to his face, trying to ward her off.

  Alicia scurried to Livia’s back and seized her arms, yanking them behind her back. “We’ve got her,” she cried, triumphant. She trained her crazy gaze on Renner.

  Livia, wild-eyed and terrified, struggled against their restraint.

  Egan hauled back her fist and slugged her.

  Alicia’s nose burst with a spray of blood. “You’ve broken my nose!” She stumbled away from Livia and pointed at her. “You!”

  What about me? Egan took a step back. She’s insane.

  Livia shimmied toward the wall.

  Letting out a wild laugh, Alicia said, “It’s all going down now. Let’s just kill them both.”

  Renner hustled to her side. He held his hands out in front of him and mumbled his incantations.

  “Run, Liv!” Egan shouted. She tried to dart for the hallway, but her legs wouldn’t budge. Then, she flew against the wall, propelled by an unseen force. Her shoulder landed with a sickening crunch. Her eyes sought Livia, who appeared plastered to an adjacent wall.

/>   “I can’t!” Livia wailed. “I can’t move. They’ve cast some sort of spell.”

  “Bow to my superior strength,” Renner roared, throwing his arms in the air.

  Alicia clapped her hands.

  Flames erupted from the walls and floor, parting into a path that led to the hallway.

  Renner grabbed Alicia’s hand. “Let us leave them to their own fate, darling.” They scurried toward the exit.

  Flames engulfed the room. It licked the clothes and hair of the comatose bodies.

  A moment later, metal doors clanged.

  The stink of burning flesh filled Egan’s nose.

  The bodies in the pentagram writhed and moaned as the fire blazed, consuming, destroying.

  A twisted darkness filled Egan’s gut as the flames roared. This is what’s inside of me. The power to destroy.

  With wide eyes and pale as snow skin, Livia screamed. “We’ve got to free ourselves!”

  Then, she stilled, her expression blank.

  Egan looked at Livia. “Oh, my God. Livia…come back to me.”

  Livia’s eyes became pure white. “Burning down. It’s all burning down,” she muttered.

  “Livia, what have they done with you?” Tears slid down her cheeks as she watched her friend. She felt utterly helpless. We’re both going to die and I did nothing to stop it. What can I do now?

  Livia

  The heat started to burn Livia’s cheeks, and she coughed through the smoke. She blinked, realizing she’d blacked out again. Her eyes sought Egan.

  “Egan!”

  “Oh, thank God you’re back.” Egan shook her arms and legs.

  “What are we going to do? Can you stop the fire with your power?”

  Egan shook her head, defeat coloring her face. “I can’t! My power destroys. You know that.”

  “Exactly. Use that power to destroy the magic in this room.”

  Egan frowned. “How do I do that?”

  “Egan, you’re strong. You can find a way, I know you can.” She flashed her most encouraging smile at her dear friend.

  Egan nodded, even though doubt drew her face in pinched lines. “Maybe I can…maybe I can call the fire into me. Return it to its source, you know?”

  “Do it. The heat is overwhelming in here. I’m not sure either of us can last much longer.” She began coughing again, as the smoke choked her lungs.

  Egan let her fire power loose. It streamed down her arms and co-mingled with the flames surrounding them.

  Livia watched with hopeful fascination. You can do this.

  Egan shut her eyes. Her chest rose and fell as she breathed.

  The flames in the room connected with Egan’s palms.

  Come on, Egan, you can do this. Livia chewed her lower lip.

  Egan groaned. She shook her hands, extinguishing the flames pouring from her fingers. “I can’t. It’s too intense. I can’t sustain it.”

  “Yes, you can, Egan. Keep trying.” She let out another string of coughs. “I’ll lend you the energy. Maybe if we combine forces, we can do this.”

  Egan let out a snarl. “Fuck!”

  “This can work. Just try.” Livia smiled and nodded while her insides churned with fear. “I’m going to close my eyes and focus on you. I’ll send you my cooling energy. You can do this.”

  Their eyes locked.

  A look of pure determination crossed Egan’s face. “Okay.”

  Livia closed her eyes. She pictured the most cooling energy she could imagine. Waterfalls. Glaciers. Streams. Falling snow. She projected each image into Egan’s mind.

  “Look! It’s working!”

  Livia’s eyes flew open.

  Egan’s arms were stretched toward the fire. They shook violently.

  Flames swirled toward her palms as if powered by a strong wind. A deafening roaring sound accompanied their disappearance into Egan’s skin. Her body glowed bright as the flames disappeared inside her. It was as if she sucked the fire into her soul. The look on her face was priceless. She appeared childlike and innocent. And happy.

  The room felt cooler, almost tolerable. Tiny flames danced at the edges of the destruction all around.

  A surge of joy filled Livia’s heart. “I knew you could do it.” Her body released from the wall with a pop. She stumbled, nearly falling on her face.

  Egan dropped to the ground, too. She caught herself, while keeping her arms outstretched. Her grin looked ecstatic. “We did it! Go find the way to our escape. I’ll keep drawing the flames inside.”

  Livia ran toward the exit Renner and Alicia had taken.

  Livia pushed at the metal door. It wouldn’t budge. She rattled the doorknob. It turned in a circle but didn’t yield the door. She pressed her shoulder to the door and pushed again.

  Nothing.

  “Will it open?”

  “It’s spelled shut!” Frustrated, Livia stepped back and examined the door. If she looked closely enough, she could see tiny, shining tendrils of magic swirling and zig-zagging along the frame. She squinted as a symbol came into view. She barely made out the outline of a tree reaching its branches outside the edges of a triangle.

  “Liv,” Egan whispered. “I can’t control it much longer! My arms are going to fall off.”

  “You’ve got the fire down. Lend me your energy the way I sent you mine.” She closed her eyes and focused on the door.

  Footsteps sounded behind her.

  Egan’s hands landed on her back, nearly scorching with heat. Her forehead pressed against the back of Livia’s skull.

  Livia nearly swooned with the sensation.

  With a deep breath, she raised her hands and closed her eyes. Instead of forcing the door open, she concentrated on summoning her and Egan’s power and gathering enough energy from her surroundings to increase her strength.

  To her surprise, the flames began to surge around her and intertwined with her electric power, sending jolts of euphoria up her arms.

  “What the hell are you doing?” Egan asked, her voice rising to a squeaky pitch. “You’re going to kill yourself! My power destroys, remember?”

  “Not if it’s combined with love.” Ignoring her, Livia trusted her gut and let the magic work its wonders. When she opened her eyes, she sucked in a gasp. Her arms were covered in dark flames, with sparks of rust-colored magic encircling them. She lifted them before her eyes in wonder.

  “Liv!”

  Egan’s voice broke her from her trance, and with a face set with determination, Livia balled up her fist and slammed it straight through the door to the other side.

  “Holy hell!”

  Grinning, Livia pulled her fist back and shook out her hands. “I did it!”

  “Good,” Egan said, swallowing. “Now get your ass back over here and wake these people up!” She shook out her hands, extinguishing her power.

  Livia did the same.

  Springing into action, Livia trotted to the people on the ground. It would take forever to drag them out. So, she knelt before them and sent secret messages into their sleeping minds.

  “Get up,” she urged, sweetly. “Follow me.”

  She nearly fell back as her mind filled with the frantic thoughts of the victims. Images of pain and suffering overwhelmed her, but she held her stance, and continued to work her powers of persuasion.

  “Come now, we shall leave together. I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

  A smile came to her face as the people slowly woke up and looked at her.

  “What happened?” one of them croaked.

  “I thought I was dying but I was helpless to do anything,” another said.

  “We’ll sort it out later.” She stood and held her hand out. “Follow me.”

  They stumbled to their feet and ambled around. Some tripped over one another. Others blinked a lot, shaking their heads. “This way,” Egan called from her position at the exit. “Out here.”

  Livia herded them toward Egan.

  “Careful, now,” Livia said. “We’re almost free.”
/>
  Egan nodded. Her face was red, and dripped with sweat as she joined Egan outside.

  Livia patted her on the shoulder. “You amaze me.”

  Egan huffed. “Whatever, chick. What you just did was some freaky shit.”

  Livia laughed, but her voice caught in her throat.

  A low grumbling sound echoed down the hallway. Then the entire building exploded, sending them flying back and into the street.

  Livia

  A blur of action happened all around her. Sirens. Shouts. Screams. Being hustled into an ambulance. Being examined at the hospital.

  And now, hours later, it was over.

  Cup of coffee in hand, Livia stood outside the interrogation room. Her wrist was bandaged and she had stitches sewn into the deep gash on her forehead. She and Egan had taken a nasty tumble into the street, and they both had the bruises to show it.

  “This is one long hell of a day,” Egan muttered, leaning against the wall beside Liv. “Or, is it night, yet? I can’t keep things straight in my mind.”

  Shrugging, Livia yawned. “I think it’s heading toward night again.”

  “At least we caught a few winks at the emergency room. I napped while you were being stitched up.” Egan leaned against the wall and closed her eyes.

  “Yes, and I laid my head down and snoozed while you were being checked out. Get this—I even fell asleep while they were stitching my head wound.”

  Egan laughed. “At least it’s something.”

  Livia took a sip of the lukewarm liquid and cringed. “Can a girl get a hot cup of coffee around here? It’s not like we didn’t just go up against a witch and a lunatic.”

  “Thatta girl. Stand up for what’s right,” Egan said, clapping.

  Livia laughed. It was weak, and less than jovial, but it was all she had in her. She wanted her bed more than ever. Her bed, and the safety and warmth of Danvers’ arms.

  With a sigh, she watched as he came around the corner, heading straight to her and Egan.

  No lingering gazes. No tenderness. He overlooked Livia and spoke directly to Egan.

  She winced, remembering how coldly she’d treated him, standing before the burning morgue.

 
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