Fire & Ice
by Verdell Walker
The Coven, Book One
After her clique’s bullying causes a classmate’s suicide, Kat Grey trades the vicious world of the California “in crowd” for the chance to become a better person in Massachusetts. But when she steps in to protect a classmate from being bullied, Kat sparks a war with Hannah, Milton Academy’s resident Queen Bee.
Kat’s courage and compassion attract the attention of Blaze Ward, Hannah’s ex-boyfriend. As they fall in love, Kat discovers that Blaze is more than the boy next door. He’s a warlock. He is also the leader of an in-crowd like no other – the Brotherhood, five young warlocks charged with defending witches and humanity from a demonic adversary named Seth.
Kat challenges Blaze to become a better man and leader while he helps her find redemption as she makes it her mission to stop bullying at Milton. But when Hannah teams up with Seth to destroy her, Kat becomes a hostage in the age-old war between the Brotherhood and their greatest enemy. Saving Kat will require more than Blaze’s strength and skill; it will mean breaking one of his kind’s most sacred laws. Blaze will have to make a choice: his honor or Kat’s life.
The body had left a spider web of cracks in Kat’s windshield. Still wrapped in her seatbelt, Kat clutched the sides of her seat, stricken with shock and fear. A rational voice in the back of her head screamed at her to move, someone was injured, maybe even dead. Trembling, she forced herself to get out of the car. On wobbly legs she rounded the front of the Prius and scanned the area for the body. Spotting a large, still lump lying in the grass, Kat sprinted over to the person’s side. Kneeling, Kat placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. She couldn’t detect any signs of blood; there was also no blood on her windshield. Whoever he was, he smelled awful. Maybe it was a homeless person.
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
The man moved faster than the blink of an eye. One minute he was lying immobile on the ground, the next he had his hand clamped on her mouth and an arm around her throat. A shot of cold fear zoomed down Kat’s spine as she felt herself being hoisted up. She kicked and thrashed in a desperate attempt to get away, but the arm on her throat was like steel. Her cries were muffled by the foul-smelling hand, and the stench of the grave enveloped her. Kat thought she was going to faint until adrenaline and her fighting spirit came to her rescue. She bit down on the stony fingers and used all her weight when she stamped her foot on her attacker’s instep. The taste erupting in her mouth was worse than the smell and made her want to vomit, but she concentrated on wrenching herself free. The thing made no sound but jerked its hand back from her sharp teeth. Kat used the opportunity to let out an ear piercing shriek. Before it could silence her again, she tipped them both forward and sent them sprawling toward the ground in a heap. Kat aimed another kick at its stomach and managed to escape. It reached out and grabbed her foot but only pulled off her sneaker.
Kat shot off into the night, racing back to her car. She paid no attention to the gravel jabbing her shoeless foot as she ran. As she ran she continued to scream, hoping someone, anyone, would hear her. Her thighs burned as they ate up the distance, and she could hear her attacker gaining on her from behind. Fear and a desire to live propelled her onward despite the pain in her foot and throat, and tears ran down her cheeks from the biting wind. Soon the Prius was in sight, but her attacker had almost closed the gap between them. She could feel those disgusting fingers reaching out and trying to grab her. Kat pressed on, even though every muscle in her body screamed to stop.
Suddenly, a thick mist rolled in and enveloped the area, blanketing everything. Because of it, Kat couldn’t see the exposed root sticking up in her path. She tripped over it and pitched forward. As she fell, the attacker’s hand grasped her hair, yanking it violently. Kat thought her neck was going to break. She hoped it would, and that it would kill her before this person, this thing could. She thought of the mother she was just getting to know again, and felt sick. Then something hot streaked past her face, and the ground beneath her shook.
“Kill the mist, Q! I need to see!”
Kat’s heart lifted – was someone coming to help her? She didn’t want to believe, but then she heard another gruff, masculine voice.
“It’s not alone! Hold back till I clear this place!”
The mist receded, like water draining from a bathtub. Kat was on the ground, and through her watery vision she could see two pairs of boots racing toward her. Her attacker’s fist was still wound tightly in her hair and she could hardly breathe for the stench. She tilted her face upward and relief fled when she saw her saviors’ eyes cast an unearthly light in the darkness, the color of the glowing embers of a fire.
“Oh my God,” Kat breathed.
Another shot – of lightning?! – whizzed past her. The tension on her hair slackened. She heard a dull thud behind her as the blast of whatever-it-was nailed her attacker in the chest and sent him flying backwards. Her rescuers ran past her in a blur. One of them was a tall blond boy, the other African American with close-cropped black hair. Her attacker tried to crawl away from them but they surrounded him. The black boy brought his boot down on his ankle, pinning him to the ground. The blond kicked him savagely in the ribs, his body flipping over onto his back. He brought a knee down onto the attacker’s scorched chest and placed his hands on either side of its head. The blond boy’s hands glowed brightly as he twisted the attacker’s neck 180 degrees. A blinding white light filled the night, and the attacker’s body was gone.
If Kat thought she was scared before, she was absolutely terrified now. She pushed herself off the ground and tried to run away, but a sharp pain in her ankle brought her back down. She must have sprained her ankle when she tripped. Kat gritted her teeth against the pain and rose again. She would crawl the last few feet to her Prius if need be, but come hell or high water she was getting out of there.
Kat didn’t look back as she half ran, half hopped away. She was almost to the Prius. Impossibly, the blond boy was right next to her in an instant, blocking her path.
“Stop,” he commanded in a voice accustomed to being obeyed.
“Go to hell,” Kat spat back as she moved around him. She tried to evade the long, powerful arms that reached out for her, but she was too slow. Or rather he was unbelievably fast. On instinct, Kat fired her elbow into his ribs. The blond let out a grunt and she slipped halfway out of his grasp. He tried to regain his hold, but Kat reared back and scraped her nails across his cheek. This made him angry, but she didn’t care. She was pissed. If he took her, it wouldn’t be without a fight.
“Get away from me!” she screamed. Despite her best efforts, he caught her again. His arms were like stone pinions around her.
“Relax,” he said into her ear in a deep, rich bass. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
“You expect me to believe that! You just broke someone’s neck!”
“You’re welcome, miss. It was a pleasure saving your life.”
Without thinking, Kat spat in his face.
A low whistle sounded behind him. It was the other boy.
“A girl who is immune to Blaze Ward’s charms – I do believe this is a first.”
The one called Blaze lifted his right hand to wipe her spit away, while still keeping her imprisoned in his left arm. She struggled against his hard body uselessly.
“Do me a favor and hold onto her while I call Etienne.”
Oh no, there are more of them, Kat thought as she was passed like a ragdoll between the two of them. The other boy held her just as tightly. Her ankle throbbed. She thought about screaming again, but figured it was impractical as there was no one else around.
Her captor leaned down to her ear and spoke to her in a calm voice. “Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you. Just keep still and quiet. And please keep your saliva to yourself.”
Blaze stepped away from them and closed his eyes. He made no sound or movement, but he seemed to be reaching out to something or someone. Moments later, another huge blond appeared with eyes as green as hers. Out of thin air.
“Oh, good Lord,” Kat said aloud.
The new blond turned to look at her. “Crap – a norm. What’s she doing here?”
“Dark One had her,” Blaze replied. “We rescued her.”
“And she thanked Blaze with a nice, big loogie,” Kat’s captor said gleefully.
Mirth twinkled in the new blond’s eyes. “Did she see anything?”
“Too much. Which is why I called you,” Blaze said.
“You need me to wipe her?”
Kat stiffened with terror. Her captor felt the change, and rubbed her arm soothingly. “Calm down – he’s not talking about killing you.”
The new blond moved toward her. “No, baby. I promise this won’t hurt, and you won’t remember any of this.”
“Get away from me,” Kat said in a hard, angry voice. He said nothing, bringing his face closer to hers. Kat could make out the individual hairs of his prickly stubble. His green eyes flashed gold.
Something pricked at Kat’s consciousness. She closed her eyes and shook her head. The pricking continued, and some force deep within her mind resisted. Kat squeezed her eyes and opened them again. The pricking stopped, and she fixed him with a glare.
The blond frowned. “This one’s mind is strong. Most norms would be drooling wrecks by now.”
“Try harder,” the first blond said.
Suddenly, a feeling of tremendous calm washed over Kat. Her muscles relaxed, and the pain in her ankle drifted away. Those golden eyes mesmerized her, held her in their sway. If her captor hadn’t been holding her, she was sure she would have fallen to the ground. Her mind tried to fight back, but this time it was impossible.
“You’re calm,” he whispered. “You’re safe, and warm.”
“Safe and warm,” Kat repeated drowsily, in spite of herself.
“Give her to me,” the first blond said. His voice sounded far away and she nearly collapsed into his arms. He wrapped her arms around his neck. Reaching down, he slipped an arm behind her knees and lifted her off the ground. Cradling her to his chest, he turned to the others.
“Etienne, do something about her car. Q, conjure up another shoe for her, will you?”
If she had been alert, she would have thought their conversation was insane. But now all she could think of was sleep.
The one called Q stepped forward with her white and pink Puma sneaker. Kat wondered idly where he had found it.
“I wonder who she is, and where she lives?” Blaze asked Q.
“Never seen her before. Probe her mind for it,” Q suggested.
“No need,” Etienne shouted. “Got her license here. Katherine Grey, lives at 223 Shady Oak Lane.”
“Pretty sure she’s breaking curfew now,” Q said. “We should get her home before she’s grounded for life.”
A thought occurred to Kat. “Text Mom,” she murmured.
Blaze shushed her. “Etienne, is there a phone over there?”
“Yup. Texting her mom now. Man, there are like 10 messages from Momma Bear on this thing.”
“Q, go back to the others and make sure there are no more Dark Ones roaming around. Etienne, drive her car back to her house. I’m going to run ahead with her.”
Kat looked up at the young man holding her in his arms. His handsome face was angular and sculpted, with high cheekbones and a strong, masculine jaw. He must have felt her looking at him, because he peered down at her. His narrowed eyes were a translucent, shimmering blue. She breathed deeply, inhaling his scent. He smelled of sweat, dark spice, and pine. In spite of herself, she felt completely safe and taken care of. He stared at her for another second, and his eyes were inscrutable. The next thing Kat knew they were moving, the night rushing past them at incredible speed.
Copyright 2013 Verdell Walker. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Verdell Walker is the author of THE COVEN series. Born and raised in the South, writing has been her escape from reality for many years.
Verdell is an avid sports fan and absolutely devoted to the Green Bay Packers. A gifted cook and baker, few things make her happier than making a meal for her family and friends. Except maybe writing about her favorite boys.
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