Home > Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(6)

Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(6)
Author: K.F. Breene

Breathe, Penny. Just breathe. They won’t look for trouble in a broom closet.

Heavy boots tramped across the floor.

Just go away. Go away. Find trouble elsewhere.

Footsteps drew closer, jogging now. The faint light under the door moved and shifted, something disturbing its flow.

My stomach churned. I should’ve listened to my temperamental third eye. I wouldn’t be in this mess if I’d trusted it.

A rumble from farther away vibrated through the floor. More fighting was going on. Yet the light disturbance lingered.

What were they doing? It was nothing but a nondescript door. Why not just open the thing and be done with it? Or, better yet, move on!

Keeping my breathing rhythmic so I didn’t panic and do something stupid (among many stupid decisions today), I straightened up slowly and wrapped my fingers around the nearest wooden handle. I would only have a fraction of a second, but maybe I could jab the attacker and run like the devil was chasing me. I’d be sure to zigzag in case my visitor was the one with the gun.

My heartbeat rang in my ears, fast and heavy. Sweat dampened my face.

Light flared from under the door. Oranges and yellows and reds.

Fire!

Why were they trying to burn me alive in a closet? Didn’t witch haters usually prefer something more ceremonious? Capture the witch, tie her to a large post, and then light the fire?

I stuck out my free hand, feeling for heat. Looked at the crack of the door for smoke. I didn’t feel or smell anything. And yet…the dancing of the light, and the way it glowed, and…

Fear tightened my chest. Pressure made breathing difficult.

I needed to make a move. I needed to run. But how far would I get with someone right in front of the door?

Without warning, that string started tugging on my ribs again right before the door was ripped open.

A flash of white and the roar of fire made me flinch, but when I opened my eyes again, all I saw was a woman dressed in leather from head to toe, staring into the closet with hard, crazy eyes. A gun was strapped to her leg and a sword hilt stuck out from just behind her head. Her confidence could fill an entire room, squeezing everyone else out. It showed in every line of her body, and the subtle way she shifted as she stared down at me, surprise flitting across her very pretty features.

“I will not join you!” I screeched, digging into my canvas purse. Not the greatest buffer against evil, but hey, I was desperate.

“I’m the good guy.” She took a step back and wariness crossed her features. Her eyes darted to my fingers curled around the broom handle. “You dodged a zombie-sized bullet, by the way.”

This couldn’t be a good guy. She was too…lethal.

She paused, and the situation seemed to warrant some kind of response on my part, but the way she looked at me, intelligent and deadly, stuck my tongue to the roof of my mouth and made my brain buzz. She was unlike anyone I had ever met, ever. Rules didn’t apply to her, I could tell. Laws were things to laugh at.

Something struck me. Well, two things, actually. The first was the memory of what the coven had been discussing prior to the whole potion debacle. Something about a set of rules for the human world and a set for the magical world.

Could this woman be one of the magical defenders they’d mentioned? Did she know the shifters and the scary creature named Vlad?

I had so many questions, but when another explosion went off, they all rattled inside my head and flew away. I was still in a battle zone. I had to get clear. Somehow.

“I thought this was a retreat!” I yelled, grasping for the words to explain how I’d gotten into this mess. “They were going to teach me about magic.”

“They were going to teach you?” The woman laughed, her shift in position revealing a hovering ball of fire behind her. In another moment, it vanished.

I was pretty sure my eyes rounded to the size of my gaping mouth. A potion was one thing, but this woman could do magic. Like…real magic!

A zing of excitement ran through me, chasing my fear away.

“They aren’t even in your league, sweet cheeks,” the woman said as she stalked toward the other door. If she was afraid of what lay beyond, or anything at all, she didn’t show it. “Stay alive and I’ll introduce you to someone who isn’t a moron. I gotta go now, though. I have to save a vampire from eternal death.”

Vampire?

But that wasn’t even the foremost question on my mind. I wanted to ask how she’d made that fire. Was it another recipe, or something she could just do from birth, like a superpower? But she’d stopped in front of the other door, hesitating, and I could only watch in anticipation.

“Do you know what’s through here?” she asked me.

“A big room. In the middle, there’s a giant, like, pit thing. Like a long pit from one side to the other.”

“How many people?”

“There were only a couple when I was in there. Then I came in here with—” The women from earlier littered the ground, clearly dead. I swallowed. “What happened to the coven?”

“They came down with a case of the stupids.” The woman rolled her neck. “Here goes nothin’.”

She kicked the door with a burst of intense power I’d never seen a woman wield. Or many men, actually. Wood cracked. The hinges broke. The doorjamb snapped away.

A smile graced her face, and I was thrown for another loop. She was marching into battle, for grievous sake. Surely that would warrant a frown?

A moment later, she was gone, and I was on my own again.

Chapter Four

Silence drenched my tiny closet. I continued to breathe evenly, keeping my cool. It wasn’t easy, because while the blasts and bangs had stopped, and the floor no longer shuddered with violence, I was hyperaware of the leftover carnage awaiting me. It would be spilled across the floors and possibly oozing down the walls.

I grimaced at my imagination.

Had the leather-clad woman made it? And what exactly was she fighting?

I still didn’t know if she was really the good guy or not. The coven I’d been working with (until the whole thing had gone off the rails) had seemed pretty nice. None of them had toted swords and guns, either.

And now they were…

I rested my chin on my knees and kept myself from thinking the word. A great travesty had happened here today. One that I’d helped cause in my ignorance.

I shouldn’t have read that sheet of paper. Or even entered the church in the first place.

The light peeking under the door flickered again. Voices drifted through the closet door.

I grabbed the handle of the broom.

The lights flickered again and a woman’s voice drifted under the door. It sounded like she was telling someone to do something, but I couldn’t make out what.

Did they know I was here?

The seconds ticked by, turning into stretched-out minutes, each seeming to last longer than the previous. A rumble vibrated through the ground. Muffled shouts and one roar, all distant, made me grit my teeth. And still the presence lingered outside the closet.

Maybe they were waiting for the leather-clad woman to deal with me.

I was no match for Leather Pants. She’d kick me around the room, laughing all the while. Which meant I should run. Right now.

Before I could summon the courage to make a break for it, the light under the door flickered again, and another voice joined the two previous ones, muffled by the door.

Silence descended. My breath caught in my throat, waiting.

A blast shook the closet door, and it ripped open for the second time. Light accosted me and the tug on my ribs was back. By this point I was pretty sure that meant something noteworthy, but my mind was twisted into knots by all the hullabaloo. I could figure it out later…if I made it to later.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, we’re not here to hurt you!” An older woman wearing a purple faux-velvet sweat suit put her hands up. “The show is over. All the bad guys are dead.”

“Except the escaped werewolf, but don’t worry about her.” An older man smiled in a good-natured way, lines creasing his face. “She is terrorizing the closest town. We’re but a distant memory.”

I stared mutely for a moment, because what?

“What are you people?” It was all I could think to say.

   
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