Authors: Maria Schneider
Tags: #werewolf, #shape shifters, #magic, #weres, #witches, #urban fantasy, #warlock, #moon shadow series
Under Witch Curse
Maria E. Schneider
Bear Mountain Books
Copyright March 2013 © Maria E. Schneider 5.10.13
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Book 3 - Moon Shadow Series
When is a blessing a curse? What if you curse a blessing? Adriel needs the answers, and quickly, because one spell will keep vampires at bay and the other will set something far worse free. Vamps aren’t her only problem, either. Zandy, the wily coyote, is back in town, and he’s out for blood. Someone had better find him fast because the body count is rising.
With White Feather to help, Adriel expects life to get easier, but the relationship comes with new responsibilities and unpleasant surprises that put a price on friendship. This time, Adriel might just need more than solid ground beneath her feet and the wind at her back in order to survive.
Before I could blink, his claws pressed against my throat, pinning me to the wall. I wouldn’t have been able to breathe easily with a vamp this close to me anyway, but this guy was making sure no oxygen reached my lungs at all.
He growled an order or suggestion, but I was too panicked to understand. From the way his free hand was trailing down my arm, I think he was trying to be sexy. He had the dark good looks for it, but he was a vampire. There was nothing sexy about dead.
The turquoise at my wrist flashed heat, as if I needed the warning. It wasn’t as hot as the ring White Feather had given me. Gold channeled even better than silver, sending enough heat and earth power through it that the diamond flared. The bright flash distracted the vampire momentarily, but I hadn’t owned the ring long enough to know how to use it to my advantage.
The vamp’s eyes returned to bore into me. It was obvious he was attempting to glamour me.
Stupider than he looked. No glamour on earth stood a chance of breaching my fear of the freak, even had I been dumb enough to gaze directly into his eyes. Most witches have some natural protection against vamps because we are tuned to magic. I’d been exposed to vamp glamour before, and all it had done was make me ground to Mother Earth as if my life depended on her, which it did.
The vamp’s fingers relented just enough for me to suck in a breath of air. He was damned, and if I didn’t do something fast, so was I.
“You think you’re powerful now, Adriel the witch?”
Power? I needed a miracle. “God Bless You.” I meant to say “God save me,” but stress and force of habit had me uttering the more common phrase.
His body was halfway across the room before I managed to suck in another breath. He hit the wall hard enough to crack the foot-thick adobe. Wind, maybe from outside—no, he hadn’t breached the wall.
I flicked a glance at the sparkling diamond on my left hand.
? Wind from White Feather? The stone and setting still radiated warning heat, but that was Mother Earth, not wind. Where the turquoise and silver were clearly a reflection of my ties to earth, the gold and diamond band felt as though a draft circled it, drawing away the warning heat.
I was an earth witch and had no say over wind; that was White Feather’s court. Luckily, my blessing pinned the vamp more effectively than either of the elemental powers.
The vamp roared a curse that was swallowed by the spirit force that kept him in check. His fangs glistened like those of a snake, taking up more than half his face.
“God Bless You,” I said again, louder. It wasn’t possible to put any more conviction into it than the first time. When you’re about to be devoured by a blood-sucking entity, prayers don’t get any holier or more desperate.
Something in the prayer made the air shimmer. Not only had I never seen such teeth, apparently I had never seen a vamp without some glamour. The beast splayed against the wall went from humanoid to an ugly, hunchbacked, clawed creature. The plaster behind him crumbled as the vamp tried to muscle free.
“God help me,” I whispered. I grabbed the silver crucifix from over the fireplace. It would burn him rather than destroy him, but in this case, every little advantage counted. My hands shook so badly I could barely hold the silver cross.
We might have stayed at stalemate until daylight took its toll on him had there not been a knock on the door. The polite tap was about as anti-climatic as snow in the middle of summer.
“Who is it?” My voice croaked.
“Since when do you vamps need an invite?” I was staring at living proof that a vamp had crossed my threshold without my permission. Why didn’t Patrick just pop right in like the other vamp? At least I knew Patrick marginally; I had helped him once, and he had patched me up in his secret hospital room not too long ago. That didn’t mean I trusted him.
“The vampire used your blood to get in. Otherwise your power would have held and he would have required a specific invitation.”
My fingers cramped around the crucifix. “And how, pray tell,” I included the reference to prayer in hopes it would hold the vamp against the wall, “did he get my blood?”
“You recall, perhaps, that I am indebted to you because you disposed of Sheila the witch? She had your blood. And the blood of one of my vampires.”
“Sheila’s dead. And anything she had is long gone.”
Patrick remained patient, but it was probably easier when standing on the other side of a door and not in the direct path of a rabid vamp. “You may also recall she experimented on a coyote shifter, among other creatures.”
“Zandy!” It came out a curse. The vamp against the wall surged forward as soon as the word was out of my mouth.
My heart hit my toes and heat flared through the jewelry again. “Bless you,” I shouted as though the vamp had sneezed. In this case I wished him all kinds of blessings, especially one from God above to cure his lack of death.
“Yes, Zandy,” Patrick said dryly, as the vamp flew backward and smashed into the wall again. Patrick ignored the noise and shaking. “Sheila harvested blood, including yours. She concocted a spell and injected Zandy. Recently the coyote hired himself out as a food source to the vampire in your living room.”
“This guy sucked Zandy dry?” I couldn’t blame him much for that. Zandy was an arrogant coyote shifter with no sense. He played any side of the fence that had money, and if he’d ever seen a moral, he’d tried to extort it too.
“Sadly, no, but the vamp fed from him. Some basic blood aura of yours must have remained in Zandy’s blood. That allowed the vampire to breach your threshold. Whatever spell Sheila injected into Zandy also rendered the vampire insane. We’re immune to most diseases, but not, unfortunately, insanity.”
“Wasn’t it obvious to berserker here that Zandy was insane?” The coyote shifter had allowed a vampire to feed on him. That was proof right there, regardless of Sheila’s lingering spell.
“You must understand it is rare for a shifter to offer blood to one of my kind. Shifter blood has unique regenerative properties. It is incredibly strong, and it is...something of a treat.”
“Whatever.” I could almost hear Patrick drooling, but I wasn’t interested in learning the finer points of vampire cuisine. Extraordinary cook I was not, and it would be a cold day in...there was no point in bringing hell into this. Hell was already in my living room.
“Have you killed Zandy, finally?” I edged a few more steps back.
“I’ve been rather preoccupied chasing down the complication we’re currently discussing.” His voice was calm, but there was an undercurrent of anger. It was nothing compared to my own. My home had been violated, spells broken and...I squeaked in protest.
The vamp was changing again, and not for the better. I could hold my faith until I died of starvation, and in fact, as I gained confidence and oxygen, the hold was stronger. But either the shimmer was making it easier for me to see what he truly was or the vamp was losing more of his humanity. When I had first opened the door, not expecting a vamp, there hadn’t been time to register more than a handsome human face, dark black eyes, and power.
Now, the creature before me was fangs. His eyes were pushed inside a brow that would have done a Neanderthal proud. Legs that originally had him towering a foot and a half over my own five-six frame were now those of a very large dog ready to pounce. His hunched back had shredded his shirt, revealing transparent skin that stretched over long pointed spines, some of which jabbed repeatedly into the plaster wall as he twisted to free himself.
I backed up another step and muttered the first lines of a Hail Mary. This thing was tearing out my front wall. If my hold faltered...the breeze from my gold ring picked up speed, swirling enough that my black hair lifted. “White Feather?”
. It was a whisper on the wind.
I almost spun around to find the voice, but instinct and training kept me facing my enemy.
Still, the distraction interrupted my prayer. The vamp pulled away from the wall, fighting hard.
I had faith. It pushed him back, but retreating even as far as my lab to grab a stake was going to be a trick. I slid one foot backwards. He held. Another. How far could faith hold? Did I have to be in line of sight?
The vamp thrashed violently, gouging a hole in the plaster and leaving a worrisome dent in the adobe.
The gold ring flared warm again, and the scent of White Feather’s magic drifted across the room.
“Houston, we’ve got a problem,” I said to no one in particular. White Feather must know I was in trouble. If he wasn’t on his way, I didn’t know magic.
The vamp’s elbow punched against the adobe, knocking another large chunk loose. His claws tore at the bricks even though he still faced me. If he couldn’t reach me, he would claw his way out.
Then what? Would Patrick get him? What if Patrick failed?
This spawn from hell could come inside my home. Anytime, apparently.
“Patrick, I think you better get in here and take out the trash.”
Patrick didn’t need a second invite. The top door hinge snapped with the force of his entry. He may have spared me a glance, but his focus was tight and saved for the vamp. He was within a foot of the guy against the wall when he finally said, “Witch, I don’t know what spell you used, but you must cancel it.”
His voice was strangled, stunned almost. He did look at me then, and even though I did not meet his eyes, I sensed a new respect. He murmured, “I don’t think I’ve seen this spell before.”
“It slipped out.” What were the chances anyone had tried to bestow God’s blessing on a vampire? Condemn them to hell, yeah, I could see it. That may or may not work, but apparently variations on a plea or blessing were very effective.
The vamp beast snaked out a lethal claw to hook Patrick, but was held back by the spirit in my blessing. Enraged at the failure, it turned its anger back to escaping. It landed a punch that hurt my ears and broke through the adobe to the outside.
“You had best hurry,” Patrick advised. His cultured voice was not as calm as usual. Instead of a neatly tied ponytail, strands of black hair floated around his face in a messy tangle. There was a smear on his jeans. His spinal column was as straight as any human, but I knew better. There was a beast within. A very ugly beast, and I had just invited it inside my home.