Midnight Falls (Sky Brooks Series Book 3)

By: McKenzie Hunter

CHAPTER 1





Josh stood in the middle of the diaphanous shell. I pressed against parts of it, trying to find a weakness in the barrier, but it held firm. The mocking grin remained as I whispered several words and pressed against the protective field that remained even after three failed attempts. It was the strongest he had ever made. I could feel the strong magic he used. Even if I couldn’t feel it, I could see it in the strain on his face. His cerulean eyes were not as dark, and deep smoky gray as he called forth stronger magic.

It wavered; his eyes eclipsed even darker trying to hold it. The words fell freely from my lips and specks of orange and blue flailed and the wall dropped; the light crystals of its existence dissipated into the air.

“Very good,” he said softly as he walked to the sofa and dropped onto it.

Just as I was about to take a seat in the chair across from him, a glass tumbler flew in my direction. My hands quickly flicked in the air and it changed direction, crashing into the door across the room, sending shattered pieces everywhere.

The exasperated breath made small waves over his lips. “You didn’t have to break it.”

“You didn’t have to attack me with glassware,” I shot back with a grin.

Even fatigued, the remarkable control Josh had over magic was impressive. Effortlessly, from his seat on the sofa, he gathered the broken glass and cleaned it away without as much as lifting his head from its resting position against the back of the chair.

“You’ve improved so much in the last three months,” he said.

With practice, my ability to control defensive magic now rivaled Josh’s.

“I think we should try spells again,” I said.

It was only when he lifted his head and those intense perceptive eyes held mine that I saw the guilt about our shared secret. We were living in this perpetual state of denial and never discussing the source of my magic—which was something we danced around. It was the dirty little secret that we would probably take to our graves. I never admitted that I held on to some of the dark magic that Ethos forced into me as an effort to kill me, and he didn’t mention that he knew that when he saved me from it. We had mastered the beautiful art of denial. We never discussed it even after the time I performed a spell and things went terribly wrong.

Gifted with the ability to change natural magic to dark, we figured I could learn to do the reverse with dark magic. Most days I had convinced myself that I could master it completely, but sometimes I doubted it. It didn’t feel like Josh’s magic, not quite dark and draconian, but not natural. But it was stolen dark magic. The more I thought I was controlling it, the more the reins of my control seemed to loosen. I often wondered if we were being foolish and naïve to believe that diablerie wasn’t inherently evil and not at the mercy of the one who wielded it.

“I think we should wait,” he finally responded after giving it a long consideration. His tone held a level of guilt rather than apprehension. Protective fields and defensive magic were easy; they just used a minor amount of magic, leaving the core of it untouched. Performing spells is where you delved into the essence of it, manipulating and forcing it to react to your command. Casting a spell wasn’t like the other things that seemed harmless in comparison. They changed the dynamics of the world, altering and manipulating things. If done correctly, it was majestic, obliterating any feelings of powerlessness while draining its source, which is why they were hard to do with borrowed magic. But my magic wasn’t borrowed. The source was dead and I had taken it from him.

He sat up, concentrating on his hands for a long time before he looked around his new place, which he had moved into just a little over a month ago. He brought many of the things from his high-rise condo in the city to his new home; a three-bedroom Art Moderne ranch. I was curious to know what eclectic person decided something so unique, with its odd curves and peculiar design, would not look conspicuous in the Midwest. It did, which was why it was hidden away nearly half an hour from the city. The stainless steel appliances, expensive hardwood floors, vibrant modern colors, and empire blinds didn’t seem to improve his post-dorm/fraternity house decorum, which probably irritated his brother each time he visited. The scarred coffee table fit the oversized microsuede dark blue sofa that was slept on more than sat on. The odd accent chairs must have been a gift because they seemed out of place, and far too traditional for his style. The worn geometric area rug wasn’t worth keeping in his first place, let alone packing it and moving it somewhere else.

It was different from his condo that I had loved, but it gave him what he desperately needed—privacy. After we had a few accidents with magic, staying in his condo wasn’t really an option, especially after the co-op asked via a nicely worded form letter from their attorney that he leave.

“Do you think we were wrong for keeping some of Ethos’ magic?” he asked softly.

Oh, I guess we are talking about it now.

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “But look how far I’ve come in just a few months. Imagine how much control I will have of it in a few more months.” My denegation seemed far more convincing than I felt about it.

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