Black Magic (Howl #4), страница 1
© 2012 by Jody Morse and Jayme Morse
Black Magic is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents in this book are products of the author’s imaginations or have been used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons or locations is coincidental and not intended by the authors.
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The snowflakes glistened in the moonlight as they fell from the clear night sky, melting as they hit against Samara McKinley’s hot cheeks. She wrapped her arms around her warm body; even though she wasn’t actually cold, she was still having a hard time breaking old habits as she adjusted to her new elevated body temperature.
“Doesn’t it look nice?” Luke Davenport asked, pointing his chin to the house behind them.
Following his gaze to the window, Samara watched as the lights on the artificial Christmas tree that they had just decorated changed simultaneously. Glorious shades of red, green, and gold twinkled, reflecting against the crystal ornaments and silver tinsel that lined the tree’s branches.
“It looks beautiful,” Samara whispered, turning back to Luke. “Thank you for helping me decorate it.”
“I can’t think of a way that I would have rather spent the night.” Luke grinned, his pearly white teeth gleaming under the dim porch light. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, lighting up the display screen to check the time. “It’s getting late. I should probably get going. And you should head to bed soon, too. I don’t want you to be too exhausted tomorrow. It’s going to be a long day.”
Samara nodded in agreement. “Yeah, we both need to be up pretty early in the morning.”
The next day was Saturday, and Samara and Luke were going to help Colby Jackson and his mom, Linda, pack their belongings. They would then move them from the house that they lived in to the house that Samara had recently found out that she had inherited from her late grandfather, Joe McKinley.
When Linda had found out that her husband, Darren Jackson, had secretly fathered Josh Masterson and his twin brother, Jason, who was the Vyka Alpha and the Ima pack’s arch enemy, she initially wanted to kick Darren out of the house so that she and Colby could continue living there. It only seemed fair that they would be able to stay in the house that they had lived in for so many years, especially when the life as they knew it was shattering from all around them.
Colby insisted that he didn’t want to stay in the house, though, because leaving was the safest option for everyone. If he and his mom (along with some of the Ima pack members, who were currently living with them) stayed there, his father was sure to come home at some point and find them. If he brought any of the Vyka pack with him, there was bound to be an attack that the Ima might not be prepared for.
It wouldn’t surprise Samara if that was exactly what Colby’s father was planning. He had tipped Jason off about where the Ima pack was when they were in Alaska. Then, he’d lied to Colby and told him that there weren’t any flights departing from Anchorage—even though there had been—just to prolong their stay so that the Vyka pack would have enough time to get to Ashertown, the town they were visiting in Alaska, and attack them.
Darren Jackson hadn’t only just betrayed his own wife and son; he had betrayed the entire Ima pack by siding with the enemy.
“At least we convinced Chris and Steve to help out with the move,” Luke said. “I didn’t think they were going to give in so easily.”
Samara nodded. “Yeah, I’m glad about that. It makes everything much less complicated.”
It had taken some bribery to get Chris Priestley and Steve Bryant, two of their pack members, to look forward to helping them move. Steve had been bummed because he was really hoping that the house could be used as a place for the pack to hangout without any type of adult supervision, and they wouldn’t be able to use it for that purpose if Linda was going to be living there.
Chris, on the other hand, wasn’t completely on board because he didn’t want to have to pack up all of his own stuff again so soon; he had only just moved into the Jackson’s house when he and Kyana had learned that they were mates. His parents hadn’t wanted her to live at their house because there wasn’t enough space, and the two had been inseparable since they’d found out they belonged together. Since Kyana’s family still resided in Alaska, they were both living with the Jackson’s.
Despite their reservations about the move, Luke had gotten both Steve and Chris to come to terms with it . . . which was fitting since it was his idea for them to move into the new house in the first place. Not that it mattered if they were all on board; Samara also knew deep down that the move was the safest thing they could do for the pack, and as Alpha, she would have forced the issue if she had to.
They were really lucky that Darren and the Vyka hadn’t returned to Grandview yet; it had given them the time that they’d needed to come up with the idea of the move. They would also be able to search the house for clues that might tell them how to conquer werewolves who use black magic to fight, which was what they were positive the Vyka and Darren had been doing.
It also gave them the time that they needed to prepare against the attack that the Vyka were probably planning against them . . . or maybe even issue their own attack first.
“Okay, so I’m going to head home now,” Luke said, snapping her out of her thoughts and back into the present, where she stood, wrapped in his arms.
Glancing up at him, Samara noticed a saddened look in his eyes. “Is something wrong?”
“I just don’t want to leave you.”
She laughed. “You’re only leaving me for a night, silly.”
Luke’s expression remained unchanged. “I worry every night that Jason’s going to come back, and something’s going to happen to you—especially now that no one from our pack is camping out in the woods behind your house to protect you. I really wish you would let them.”
Samara rolled her eyes. “You’re all just a thought away if something like that ever does happen. Plus, I’m wearing wolfsbane so that they won’t pick up on my scent.” Wolfsbane was the flower that they’d found out in Alaska her grandfather had used to hide his scent, which was part of the reason he was so powerful.
“Hiding your scent isn’t going to make a difference if they know where you live,” Luke pointed out matter-of-factly.
“But Jason hasn’t shown his face yet. And I don’t think he would attack me at home. I think Seth would try to talk him out of it if he ever brings the idea up to his pack. Don’t worry, okay? I’m going to be fine.”
Luke didn’t look convinced, but he let out a defeated sigh anyway. “I guess you’re right.” He leaned down and gave her a small kiss, sending shivers down her spine and a fiery warmth through her veins as their lips met. “I’ll be here at seven o’clock tomorrow morning to pick you up, okay?”
She nodded. “Yes, that’s perfect. Goodnight, Luke.”
She watched as his car pulled out of the driveway before turning to go in the house. Once she wa
As she closed her eyes to drift off to sleep, she thought, I love you.
Luke’s voice filled her mind right away. I love you, too.
Samara smiled as she rolled over onto her side. She loved knowing that even when they were far from each other in terms of physical distance, they were only just a thought away.
It was still dark out the next morning when Luke pulled into Samara’s driveway. As she climbed into the car, he glanced over at her. “Did you notice how much you were steaming out there?”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “Steaming? What are you talking about?”
“When it’s cold out, our body temperature causes steam. Kind of like when you can see your breath when it’s really cold,” Luke explained. "Your temperature must be up really high right now because the steam is coming off of you like crazy.”
“Or it’s just colder than it usually is. I’ve never seen steam come off of any of us before.” Samara watched the car windows as they began to fog up from her hot breath. “Do you think we should stop and pick up breakfast for everyone? We have a long day of moving ahead of us. I want everyone to have a lot of energy.”
Luke nodded. “I, for one, am starving.”
They stopped off at Williams’ General Store. Luckily, they were the only customers. Edda Williams, the store owner, was working behind the counter, as usual.
“Good mornin’, Samara. What can I get for ya today? Your new usual?” Edda asked, a chipper tone in her voice.
Samara smiled. Edda may have been in her seventies, but her memory was as sharp as a razor blade; she had already memorized Samara’s new order, which included meat now that she was a werewolf and was no longer satisfied by a vegetarian diet.
“No, we’ll take two dozen bagels with bacon, egg, and cheese. And twelve orders of sausage, please.”
Edda raised her eyebrows, the lines on her forehead wrinkling. “Are y’all going to a party this early in the morning? That’s enough food to feed a pack of wolves!”
Samara felt her whole body tense. She forced herself to laugh, but nervously darted her eyes over in Luke’s direction. Do you think Edda knows the truth about us?
No, it’s just an expression. I’m sure she doesn’t know anything, she could hear Luke chuckling in her mind as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to him.
His touch instantly made her relax, and she felt assured that Edda really didn’t know that they were wolves. If only the old woman knew how ironic her statement really was.
“How’s your mom doin’?” Edda asked, as she began to prepare their food.
“She’s good.” Samara smiled. Her mom had worked at Williams’ General before she became a legal secretary.
“Has your brother come home yet from staying with that friend of his?” Edda pressed, glancing over her shoulder.
Samara shook her head. “No, he hasn’t. My mom told you he moved out?” she asked, surprised. Her parents didn’t say much about Seth ever since they’d found out that the reason he had left home was because of her decision to become an Ima. Samara thought it was because they secretly blamed her for him leaving, but it was probably mostly because it pained them to talk about it.
Edda nodded. “Yes, she came in here the other day to grab a coffee and told me it’s been crazy for all of y’all at home. I told her not to worry. Seth’ll come back when he’s good and ready. He’s just being a typical, rebellious teenage boy.”
“I guess.” Samara forced herself to offer Edda a small smile, even though her statement was wrong. Seth wasn’t going to come back, not now or ever. He couldn’t. If he came back, he would be betraying the Vyka; coming home would mean that he would be living with the enemy.
Unless Samara died or moved out, her brother would never live with the McKinley family again.
“Food!” Chris exclaimed, excitedly, sniffing his nose in the air as Samara and Luke walked through the front door, clutching brown paper bags.
“Yeah, we brought breakfast for everyone.” Luke beamed, as he set the bags that he was carrying on the dining room table. “Come dig in, everyone.”
Josh was the first to sit down at the table. He pulled an order of sausage out of the bag and hungrily ripped it open, tossing the wrapper aside.
Samara couldn’t help but notice how awful he looked; his light brown eyes had bags under them, and his skin was paler than it normally was. He also looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
Chris sat down in a chair next to Josh, and Kyana sat down on his lap.
Josh rolled his eyes. He and Chris had both crushed on Kyana before she’d gone through the Ima pack initiation. Chris turned out to be her mate, even though everyone had been expecting to see her paired up with Josh. Samara wasn’t sure why they all thought it was going to happen that way; she’d later remembered that a werewolf could only have one true mate during his or her lifetime, and Lilly had been Josh’s.
Either way, Josh was still sort of bitter over the whole situation because before Kyana had become an Ima, he’d had a stronger connection with her than Chris had.
Samara watched as Kyana fed Chris a piece of bagel, her almond-shaped eyes smiling. “How does that taste, baby?”
Chris grinned. “Delicious.”
“Okay, I’m not a prude or anything, but do you think the two of you could sit in your own chairs, and at least try to control yourselves while you’re around us?” Samara asked, mostly for Josh’s benefit than anything else. She couldn’t imagine how awkward it made him feel to watch them swooning over each other when he was probably still thinking, deep down, that it should have been him.
“Sorry,” Kyana mumbled before reluctantly peeling herself away from him and plopping down into another chair. She started to eat her breakfast, and Chris placed a hand on her leg, probably to reassure himself that she was only a few inches away from him.
Geez, I don’t get it. We have so much more control over ourselves than they do, Luke commented through mind-speak.
Samara shrugged and offered him a small smile. She was happy with Luke, but part of her wondered why their chemistry wasn’t quite as strong as Kyana and Chris’s was. It didn’t make that much sense, but she supposed that just like every human couple, every werewolf couple was different. Maybe some werewolves had mostly physical chemistry, while others were more emotionally connected to one another.
Steve slumped down into a chair next to Kyana. His braided hair was pulled into a ponytail, and his chocolate brown eyes still looked sleepy. He was wearing his Family Guy pajamas; he must have spent the night at the Jackson’s house.
“Oh, food,” he mumbled, realizing for the first time why they were all sitting around the table, as he dug into the brown paper bag and pulled out a bagel and an order of sausage.
“Hey, Cuz,” Kyle said, smiling, as he sat down at the table, too. Her cousin’s copper hair was shorter than it was the last time she had seen him, and the polo t-shirt and jeans that he was wearing looked crisp. The smile on his lips was wider than usual, and while Kyle was always a fairly optimistic person, Samara couldn’t help but wonder why he seemed to be in a better mood than he normally was.
“Where are Colby and Emma?” Samara asked, realizing for the first time that she didn’t see either of them. Emma Taylor, her best friend, was supposed to help them move today, even though she had been pretty reluctant to do so. Colby was Emma’s mate, but Emma had been avoiding him as much as she could so far. Helping him move would mean having to interact with him at some point, so she wasn’t into the idea.
“Emma hasn’t gotten here yet. She said she needed her beauty sleep, so she was going to sleep in an extra hour or two than the rest of us before heading over here,” Josh replied through a mouthful of bacon and cheese. “And Colby’s in his room. I don’t know what he’s doi
Samara nodded and sat down at the table, reaching into the bag and pulling out breakfast for both her and Luke. She placed his down on the table next to her, and he sat down beside her.
“So, did any of you get in touch with Rain?” Samara asked, turning to the rest of the pack members.
Rain was a girl who Chris had been in love with for years, long before either of them had become werewolves. Since none of the other werewolf packs in the area wanted Rain on their pack because her grandfather had killed Samara’s grandmother, Samara had decided to let her become an Ima. She thought it was unfair for Rain to be held accountable for what her grandfather had done.
After Rain had initiated into the Ima pack, she had disappeared because of what had happened between her and Chris; they thought they were going to be each other’s mates, but on the night of Rain’s initiation, Kyana also initiated. Chris had tried to talk Rain out of going through initiation, leaving out the most important piece of information—that he already knew Kyana was his mate . . . until after she had been initiated.
As soon as Rain found out the truth, she had been angry and hadn’t gotten in touch with anyone from the Ima pack since. Samara had tried calling her to make sure that she still wanted to be an Ima and again to ask her if she wanted to help with the moving process today, but Rain hadn’t answered or called her back either time.
“No,” Kyle replied with a shrug. “Chris tried to call her, but he didn’t get any response. Looks like she’s a no-show for today.”
“You called her?” Kyana asked, her face twisting in anger as she turned to look at Chris. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Chris shrugged. “I didn’t want you to get all worked up over it. It’s not really a big deal.”
“If it’s not a big deal, why didn’t you tell me?” Kyana snapped at him. The jealousy was obvious in her voice.