Charms & Demons - Ebook
Charms & Demons - Ebook
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USA TODAY BESTSELLING SERIES
I survived the incident with the Greater demon. As a dark witch, I can handle pretty much any supernatural baddie that comes my way, including the occasional Greater demon.
But my struggles are far from over.
When a series of unexplained witch murders plague New York City, it’s up to me to uncover the culprits and hunt them down with some good ol’ fashion magic.
To make matters worse, the insufferable, drool-worthy Logan keeps popping into my life unannounced, making it extremely hard to focus on the job—and not his tight behind.
Something dark is brewing in the shadows of New York City. But as I get closer to the murders, I’m uncovering a different sort of darkness and evil. And I think it’s coming after me...
Charms & Demons is a fast-paced urban fantasy adventure with a kick-butt heroine and plenty of action, suspense and humor.
Look Inside Chapter 1
Look Inside Chapter 1
A scream split the night air.
I scuffed to a halt, the hairs on the back of my neck rising.
The voice was female, young, and human, with a sound of such utter fear and insane terror
that it made my stomach churn and my gut shake.
I was out on my routine patrol of the city, keeping tabs on any unruly demon sightings and
standing ready to vanquish any stinking bastard that stepped through the Veil
and crossed into our world to make meals of unsuspecting humans. Contracted by
the Dark Witch Court, it was my job to keep watch on any supernatural baddie
that was up to no good. The pay wasn’t great, but it was enough to get by.
It had been a
quiet night until now.
I didn’t have the
luxury of time to decide on a course of action. When I didn’t move quickly,
people got killed. I’d been too slow with Julia, the girl whose parents had
hired me to find her, and now she was dead. Killed by a Greater demon, no less.
Shit. I wasn’t a
great sprinter nor did I have the physique of a seasoned athlete, but I dashed
toward the scream, pushing my legs as fast as they would go, with a spell
forming in my head. My hatred for demons wrestled with my fear, fueling me with
adrenaline and an extra burst of speed.
I despised them. I
hated them to the very depth of my soul. And I was going to fry their asses.
The scream came
from the direction of East 14th Street around the corner of 1st Avenue. I raced
toward the dark alley squished between Moe’s Vegetarian Lounge and The Pizza
Shop, away from the light—always away from the light. To a demon, light was
like sticking its finger in the flames of a fire. It burned them immediately.
Why did I always
find myself in dark, dirty alleys with the demon of the hour? Because that’s
how exciting my life was. Yay for me.
I ran across East
14th Street just as another scream cut through the air. Cars whined into
motion, tires squealed, and loud shouts were hurled from drivers as I
maneuvered between them, the pounding of my heart loud over the revving
“Watch it!” cried
shouted a driver from a gray SUV as its engine sputtered and caught, its wheels
spinning on the pavement.
Smiling, I flipped
him the bird and kept running.
Humans. Such an
Breathing hard, I
leaped onto the sidewalk, zigzagged through a couple of humans in their mid-thirties
and rushed toward the alley. If the humans had heard the scream, I saw no
indication. Papers and plastic bags rattled and scraped over the streets in a
sudden breeze, and the leaves in the trees rustled and sighed in the wind.
I reached the
entrance to the alley, slipped through an opening in the chain-link fence, and
darted between several empty cardboard boxes and metal garbage bins. The air
smelled of beer, piss, and rot—the aroma of a night out on the town. Excellent.
I blinked as
darkness hit me, and I slowed to a walk. The alley was cloaked in darkness like
a giant drape had blocked all the light from the street and neighboring
There was only one
explanation for that—magic. Demonic magic.
My breath came
faster as I felt something wrong, unnatural. An uneasy feeling ran over me,
cold prickling along the nape of my neck and up my spine. I stood there for a
minute, frowning while contemplating whether I should pull out my chalk. But if
I couldn’t see, I couldn’t draw a summing circle either, so conjuring a demon
from the Ars Goetia was out.
Damn it. Blinking, I strained to see
through the darkness, but it was like standing in a closet with the lights out.
I could make out shapes, but that’s where my vision ended.
Pulse spiking, I swept
my eyes around, trying to pin down the source of the magic and the screaming
human. I stepped forward with my hands splayed at my sides and a spell on the
tip of my tongue.
The air was hot
and stuffy, and I realized the wind had suddenly stopped. Now just pure,
brittle and crystalline silence and darkness surrounded me.
Then I heard a
struggling sound accompanied by a few frightened grunts before the screaming
started again. Closer this time.
And then I was
moving again. I acted without thinking, but I couldn’t help it. My instincts
pulled me in the direction of that poor human. I had to reach her. I had to
I sprinted into
the alley as fast as I could through the darkness and toward the source of the
sound, but I still couldn’t see anything. Only darkness stretched ahead of me
as though I could go on for hours and not see a single thing. Possibly I was
even trapped in this magical abyss.
Screw it. I had no
“Hello?” I called
as I halted and listened. “Hello, can you hear me? Where are you?”
A figure appeared
through the darkness, short and plump, the silhouette of a small male or
perhaps even a small female. It remained hunched before me, about twenty feet
away, but I couldn’t make out the face or tell if it was human or demon.
just stood there, giving me nothing. Great.
I tapped into the
power of my sigil rings and held it with my will. “Hello?” I ventured. Yes,
that sounded lame, but I needed to hear it speak before I started shooting off
my magic. A dead human would look pretty bad on my record. A fried one, burnt
to a nice, blackened and toasty crisp, was even worse.
And still the
silhouette didn’t move.
I let out a
breath. “Listen, I don’t have all night. If you could just—”
An invisible force
hit me. I never saw it coming, and I certainly never felt it coming
It struck me with
the force of a linebacker on steroids. Despite my prepared spell, I didn’t even
have time to deflect it. Instead, it felt like a giant had slugged me with one
of his massive hands head-on, driving me straight back.
I flew several
feet through the air, hit the pavement with my back, and then clipped my head.
My breath exploded out of my lungs as I scraped another ten feet along the
Ouch. What the
hell was that?
I tried to muster
a breath, but my lungs didn’t seem able to manage it yet. I blinked in the
darkness as white stars swirled around in my vision. A sliver of panic slipped
through me as the idea of facing another Greater demon formed in my mind. Damn
it. After all that had happened with Vargal, you’d think I’d have been more
Finally, I managed
to take a gulp of air, panting as my lungs formed.
“Son of a bitch,”
I wheezed as I rolled to my feet. The world tilted, and I did my best not to
fall flat on my face. Because that would look totally amateurish. And I
was a professional.
demon had some serious magical skill. Ten to one, I’d even go so far as to say
he was more powerful than me. Yeah. I was having a great night.
Still, I wasn’t
about to let some degenerate demon kill me. Not while I still drew breath and
had a human to save.
With my jaw
gritted, I tapped into my sigil rings again, drawing power from them. Energy
coursed through me, filling my veins with the staggering feeling of strength
My eyes narrowed,
and my fingers splayed as I gestured. “Come on, you bastard!” I cried, trying
to see through the darkness, but my eyes would never settle on anything solid.
“Where are you? Afraid of a little witch?” I waited, adrenaline spiking through
my veins as I listened for a single scrape of a foot on the pavement so I could
A wind rose around
me, and then the darkness lifted.
Light spilled into
the alley from the moon and the nearby streetlamps, bathing the narrow alley in
hues of silvers and blues. Shapes became focused until I could see clearly.
Two things hit me
at once. One, the demon was gone. And two, a body lay on the ground not ten
feet from me.
Shit. I ran to the
bundle. She was lying on her side. Female from her sheer size and the width of
her shoulders under the thin black jacket she was wearing—at least what was
left of her.
My lips parted as
I ran my eyes over the body. Because, yes, it was a body. No one could be alive
and look like that.
The skin over her
face, hands, and neck was dried, as though all the blood and liquid from her
body had been drained. Her teeth were too large, and barely a hint of a nose
was left. Just two holes sat where the nostrils used to be amid skin stretched
over a skull. There was no way to determine her age. It was as though I was
looking at the dried face of a thousand-year-old mummy.
What the hell? The
only demons I knew that could suck a human into a dried mummy was a succubus
and its male counterpart, an incubus. And yet, from what I knew, it would take
days or even months to ingest a human’s life force and all of its liquids to
end up looking like a dried prune.
Plus incubi and
succubae didn’t have the skills to conjure up a cloak of darkness. Their
magical skills ended with just regular glamours and tricks of the minds. Easy
stuff. They had nothing this complex and powerful in their repertoire. This
didn’t make sense.
Nausea bubbled up.
Shit. This was bad.
“Damn it,” I said.
“I don’t need this right now.” I knelt next to her, grabbed her shoulder and
gently turned her over.
Narrow scoops of
flesh were missing from the side of her neck at the jugular.
I felt the blood
leave my face and settle around my clavicles.
Holy hell. A demon
hadn’t done this. A vampire had.
civilized, educated, and had mastered the art of passing for humans so well
that even I could mistake them for a human every now and then. Plus they
normally didn’t go around killing humans—not for thousands of years at least.
We had laws for this kind of thing. Humans were off the menu for vampires. If
human blood was offered voluntarily, that was socially acceptable. But if you
were caught killing a human, it was a stake in the heart for you.
Over the years,
I’d heard the stories of vampires gone rogue on killing sprees. It was
inevitable. All societies and races, human and half-breed, had their share of
Now it looked like
I had a rogue vampire on my hands. And he or she was killing innocents in my
My stomach churned
as I rolled my eyes over the dead human. Something wasn’t right. It would take
a normal vampire days to drain all the blood from its victim. Unless the
vampire was old. Ancient. Powerful. And if that were true, I had a bigger
problem on my hands than a simple rogue vamp.
I had an ancient
vampire with powerful magic.
“Oh my God!”
screamed a female voice behind me, making me jerk.
Heart pounding, I
whirled around and looked into the faces of four humans. This night was just
getting better and better.
“What did you do?”
exclaimed the same voice, belonging to a dark-skinned woman in her thirties.
She waltzed right up to me in her tight red dress. As she stared at the body,
her large eyes widened by the second, and her mouth opened in silent “o.” I’d
seen that expression before on so many humans and on so many occasions—the
expression of disbelief, horror, and the usual “This can’t be real.” Yup, I’d
seen them all.
A man with tanned
skin and glasses came up next to her and pushed her out of the way to get a
better view. He stared for a moment. Then blinked. A sound escaped his throat
as he spun around, sending chunks of his vomit in wide arcs all over the
I stood up slowly,
my mind swirling with spells and hexes, but I readied a memory charm instead.
To hit four humans with a memory charm wasn’t impossible, but it would take
some expert coaxing to keep them still while I did it.
The other two
humans, a woman in a black wrap dress and a man in a dark suit, kept their
distance—obviously the smarter ones.
terrorist,” said the man in the suit, his face twisting in anger.
Okay, I take it
back. Not so smart.
“This is some kind
of bioweapon,” said the same man, pointing a shaking hand at me. “Like anthrax
or something. It’s not natural. It’s engineered.” He covered his mouth and
stepped back, grabbing his date with him.
Okay, so I did
look guilty, and this situation really looked bad as I knelt next to the
body. Though without a magical explanation, human forensics would show that the
body had been drained completely. It would have taken some kind of lab or
medical equipment to do it, and a person in an alley alone wouldn’t have been
able to pump all the liquids out of a body.
anthrax,” I said, my voice calm as I gauged the distance between me and the
closest human who was still vomiting. Hit him when he’s bent over, and all
that. “Anthrax doesn’t drain you of your bodily fluids. It attacks your lungs.”
“And how do you
know that?” accused the same man. “You sound like you know all about this.”
Great. This was
certainly going nowhere fast. “Google it if you don’t believe me.” I sighed.
“But I didn’t do this to her. I found her like this.” Totally true. But the
accusations that rippled over their faces and reflected in their eyes said
“You killed her,
you fucking psycho,” said the same man in the suit, though from a safer
distance from me and my supposed victim.
“I didn’t,” I said
as I took a step forward toward the man who had stopped vomiting. His face was
pale and looked like he might resume spewing chunks at any moment. Damn. Humans
were so overly dramatic and so quick to judge. “You have to believe me. I heard
a scream and I came to investigate. I only wanted to help her.” I could tell I
was just wasting my breath. I was already guilty in their eyes.
The man in the
suit’s face was screwed up. He shifted from foot to foot, looking like he was
contemplating either bolting or hitting me with a hard object—perhaps hitting
me and then bolting. “Then why aren’t you calling 9-1-1?” His face went hard
with accusation. “Where’s your phone?”
Touché. Time to
work the memory charm.
The woman in the
red dress gasped. “Look, she’s wearing gloves,” she exclaimed, pointing at my
hands, and I stilled. “She’s got gloves! Gloves!” she shrilled. “It’s anthrax!
She’s going to use it on us!”
“You’re not going
to get away with this. You killed her!” cried the woman in the red dress, just
as her friend pulled out her cell phone, pointed it at me and started taking
pictures. I ducked my head just as her date pulled out his cell phone and
dialed three numbers.
Yup. That was my
cue to leave.
I turned and ran.
follow. Screw the memory charm. It was too late for that. And I wasn’t about to
stick around and wait for the cops. That wouldn’t go so well—for the cops.
The last thing I
needed was the attention of the New York City police on my case, especially
when I had a rogue, ancient vampire skilled with magic loose in the city.
Yeah, this had
turned out to be a hell of a night.
inside me said this was just the beginning.