Corrigan Magic (Corrigan: Blood Destiny Book 2)

BOOK: Corrigan Magic (Corrigan: Blood Destiny Book 2)
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CORRIGAN

MAGIC

 

By Helen Harper

Copyright © 2014 Helen Harper

All rights reserved.

Chapter One

 

I knew they were after me almost immediately.  As soon as I left the meeting in the West End, I could feel the hackles rising up on the back on my neck.  Staines had told me to expect something along these lines so I wasn’t surprised.  In fact, it would be an easy matter to avoid any conflict.  Mara was already at the curb, engine running, and I did have an almost soul-destroying mountain of paperwork to complete back at the Brethren headquarters.  But if they didn’t make a move now, then they’d make it later.  Rather than delay the inevitable, it made sense to deal with this now. 

When I approached the car, Mara stepped out.  She’d recently taken to dressing down.  Xander Brady, the previous Lord Alpha, had demanded she wear an old-fashioned chauffeur uniform.  He’d wanted to make himself appear more important – and prove to the watching world that his control was absolute, even when it came to minor elbow witches.  But Mara had just looked ridiculous in the brimmed hat and perfectly starched suit in the colour of mossy bracken.  I hadn’t commented on her attire when I’d taken over.  If there was one thing I’d learnt over the years, it’s that where women’s clothing is concerned, the best approach is always to keep quiet.  Besides, considering what the mages get away with wearing when they’re away from the immediate reach of the Ministry, I didn’t think that demanding sharp creases and pristine collars would improve the efficiency of either the shifters or those like Mara who worked with us.  Therefore, when Mara first ditched the hat and I didn’t comment, she gradually became bolder and bolder.  It didn’t take long for Brady’s uniform to completely disappear.  Today she was wearing dark jeans and an extraordinarily cheesy t-shirt emblazoned with three wolves howling at the moon.  It was difficult not to grin even though I knew the werewolves would be appalled if they saw it.  Mara enjoys pushing the boundaries and I’m happy to let her.  There’s a little too much of an elitist, entitled attitude lingering amongst some of the Brethren, especially Brady’s personal recruits.  It wouldn’t do them any harm to learn to laugh at themselves.

“You can go home, Mara,” I told her.  “I think I’ll make my own way back.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Lord Corrigan.  There are three vampires who’ve been waiting by the corner for the last hour.  When you came out, it was obvious that you’re their target.”

I raised my eyebrows.  “Target?  Maybe they simply want my autograph.”  I leaned in towards her and lowered my voice.  “I’m becoming quite the catch, you know.”

Mara didn’t so much as blink.  “I don’t think they’re your type.”

“What’s my type?”

“Apparently rogue werehamsters who don’t like following orders.”  Mara’s tone was light but she must have registered something in my expression because her face suddenly paled.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to speak out of turn.  I…”

“Don’t worry about it.”  I tried hard to retain an element of our banter.  “I know what the rumour mill is like.  I’m just not sure that a shifter whose first impulse is to find the nearest giant wheel is the one for me.”  My weak joke fell flat and Mara didn’t so much as crack a smile.  I sighed.  Perhaps it would be better to cut and run before I really put my foot in it.  “Tomorrow afternoon, then?”

“If you insist.”  She still didn’t look very happy.

“I do.”  I started to wander off, whistling lightly.  “Have a lovely evening.”

I crossed the road, maintaining my relaxed posture.  The vampires were carefully keeping downwind so at least they had one or two brain cells to rub together.  They must have been of the opinion that if I couldn’t smell them, I’d be oblivious to their presence.  No shifter relies on one sense to the detriment of the others though. 

Vampires were cold, soulless creatures but this impending attack wasn’t personal.  I was the new Lord Alpha and they were keen to test my mettle.  Equally, while I was confident I could take them, I wasn’t stupid.  Foolhardy egotism has been the downfall of many Otherworlders.  No-one is invulnerable.  Three vampires working together wouldn’t be easy.  There’s a reason why wolves hunt in packs – and an encounter with three dead ones would be no different.  I decided to even out the odds.

Once I’d passed the first intersection, I nipped to my right and to the back of an alley.  Thank London for its sprawled mess of streets; there was always the opportunity for dark corners where we could remain out of sight from humans.  It wasn’t usually advisable to make the transformation from human to beast in such a public place – in fact, previous Lord Alphas had executed shifters for daring to shift in the city.  I was aiming for a more relaxed approach though – if you could be smart enough not to get caught, then it didn’t bother me where you shifted.  But old habits died hard and few Brethren members had dared to test the new limits thus far.  Maybe I could set an example – and this deserted little street would be perfect. I grinned to myself.  Two birds with one stone.  The only minor annoyance was my clothing.

Using a rickety old exterior fire escape, I clambered to the top of the first building.  I was moving more quickly now.  It wouldn’t take long before the vampires caught up.  At least the building itself was only a few storeys high, even if the reek from the restaurant down below was quite overpowering.  I made a mental note to never ever eat there as I stripped off, neatly folding my shirt and trousers and leaving them in the corner of the flat roof.  After all, I did have appearances to maintain and I’d need to get dressed again at some point.  Within seconds of crouching down, I exploded into my werepanther form.  It was just as well; the vamps were already fanning out, with one guarding the alley entrance, one heading towards the end to make sure it was clear and the other venturing up the same fire escape I’d used.  This might be easier than I’d first thought.

I hunkered down on my belly, keeping as close to the edge of the building as I could.  The climbing vampire wouldn’t see me until it was too late.  I kept my ears cocked and sniffed carefully - not that it was difficult to work out where my adversary was.  He smelled particularly rotten, even for a bloodsucker.  I remained frozen until the very last moment.  The second his head bobbed up above the building’s edge, I extended my claws and lashed out, digging them into his flesh and gaining enough purchase to pull him off his feet.  After that it was a simple matter of spinning round while he was still in midair and striking him with my back legs.  He let out one short scream and plummeted all the way back down.  The crack as his spine connected with the concrete below was almost satisfying. 

“Blink and you’ll miss it,” I growled.  Then, while his two companions began to shout, I sprang after him, landing next to his sprawled body.  Naturally, I landed on my paws.  I am a cat after all.

I tensed my muscles as the vampire at the far end began to run.  Unfortunately, most bloodsuckers tend to enjoy preternatural speed.  Shifters are certainly fast – and their stamina means that in a marathon they’ll outstrip any vampire, even on a bad day.  An enclosed area like this would be a different matter, however.  The good thing was that his companion at my back was also running.  A crafty idea popped into my mind.  I wasn’t sure it was even possible but this was too much of an opportunity to miss out on.  I just had to get the timing spot on.

Vamp One leapt forward, red eyes flashing and claw-like hands extended.  I didn’t move a muscle.  I didn’t want to advertise my intentions.  A heartbeat later, when I felt a rush of air from behind, however, I knew it was time.  I launched upwards in a textbook vertical jump.  As I’d hoped, Vamp One collided with Vamp Two in the space I’d just vacated.  They both fell backwards and, as I landed again, I made a single smooth return back to my human shape, grabbing the first one by the throat and then doing the same to the second.  I slammed the pair against the opposite wall and snarled.

“What gives, gentlemen?”

Vamp Two hissed.  Flecks of red-tinged saliva flew out of his mouth. Eurgh. “We were out for an evening stroll.  How dare you attack us like this?”

“Of course,” I purred, “you are nothing more than innocent passersby.”

“Exactly!  You have no cause to hurt us!  Our people will not be happy.”

I tightened my grip fractionally.  They both made a show of moaning in pain but I knew for a fact it wasn’t hurting them one bit.  Apparently I had a pair of drama queens on my hands.

“Yeah,” the other one sneered.  “And you broke Vincent’s back.  It’ll take him days to recover.”

“Aw, diddums.  Life is hard.”  I leaned my face in.  “I just have one question though.”

Vamp Two took the bait.  “What?”

“Isn’t it clichéd to call your friend Vincent?”

The only answer I received was two identical looks of loathing.

I continued.  “I mean, I suppose the alliteration does make it kind of catchy.  You know, ‘Vincent the Vampire’.” I sketched out a pair of quotation marks in the air.  “But it’s not very original, is it?”

“Let us down, you animal. Make this a fair fight.”

“Oh, but I thought you didn’t want to fight.  Besides,” I smiled slowly, “three against one isn’t very fair, is it?”

Vamp Two abandoned all pretense.  “If you hadn’t shifted, we’d have had you!”

“I see,” I said innocently.  “So if I release you now and we fight again, you’ll promise not to use your fangs, will you?”

A devious look came into Vamp One’s eyes.  “Sure.”

I made a show of pondering it.  Then I shrugged.  “Nah.”  With one swift movement, I knocked both their skulls together and, as one, they slumped to the ground.  I remained where I was for a moment, gazing down at their prone bodies.  That had just been too easy. I spun round, crouching down by Vincent.  He was still conscious, blinking at me with a sudden trace of fear.

“You’re right to be afraid,” I told him.  “I should just kill you here and now.  I’m fairly certain that’s what all the other Lord Alphas have done when you vampires have tried this.  Except I’ve got things to do.  Instead of ending your pitiful existence here, why don’t you go back to all your little dead buddies and tell them you’ve had your opportunity to take me down and you’ve failed.” I glanced back at the other two.  “You know, if you’d actually worked as a team instead of immediately splitting up, you might have had a chance.”  I patted him on the head.  It was patronising because it was meant to be.  “Remember that for the future.”

I didn’t wait for an answer.  I simply climbed back up to the rooftop to retrieve my clothes, get dressed and get back home.

 

*

 

I hadn’t been kidding when I’d said I had things to do.  I’d barely put a foot through the grand Brethren doors when Leah came striding towards me.

“Where the hell have you been?  You were supposed to be back over an hour ago!  You need to start getting ready.”

“I had a minor matter to take care of.”  I peered at her curiously.  “What’s wrong with you?  You’ve been in a bad mood since you got back from Russia.  Do you want to talk about what happened?”

She scowled at me with the sort of spitting ire that only a sibling can manage.  “I’ll talk about it when you talk about happened in Cornwall.”

My face shuttered.  Leah laughed and pointed at me.  “Not so gabby now, are you?”

“I have to shower,” I muttered, manoeuvring myself round her.

“Do you have a date for tonight?” she called out.

I ignored her, striding over to the grand staircase.  Unfortunately, Leah wasn’t the only one on the look out.

“My Lord Corrigan!”

Staines sounded almost as huffy as Leah had.  I glanced over in his direction and raised my eyebrows.  “What is it?”

“You should be dressed by now.  We’re leaving in twenty minutes.”

“And it’ll take me half that time to get ready,” I growled.

“This ball is important,” he began.

I held up a hand.  “I know, I know.  It’s for the good of Otherworld relations.  That is actually why I’m late.  Otherworld relations, I mean.”

“What happened?”

“The vampires made their move.”

Staines looked mildly curious.  “Did you kill them?”

“No,” I dismissed.  “They were only following orders.”

“A few less bloodsuckers in this world wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

I gave him a grin.  “I thought you were all for improving Otherworld relations.”

“Not with them.”  He grimaced.  “Who are you taking to the ball?”

“I rather thought you were coming along.”

His eyes narrowed.  “You know what I mean.”

I tapped my wrist.  “Time is ticking.”

“There are lots of pretty girls…”

“Spare me.”

He huffed loudly while I climbed the stairs two at a time.  This was getting ridiculous.  It was more fun dealing with vampires than it was with my own sister and my trusted advisor. 

“Should have stayed in the damned alley,” I muttered.

“What was that, my Lord?” he called out behind me.

“Nothing, Staines.  Nothing at all.”

BOOK: Corrigan Magic (Corrigan: Blood Destiny Book 2)
12.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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