Fused in Fire Page 2

Two streams of magic came at me from either direction. My fire licked at the ice magic, begging to be used, but most of its potency was blocked.

That didn’t matter.

I flicked my hand, lazily tossing up an invisible wall. I didn’t know how my magic could manipulate the very air, but it did, and in some situations it worked even better than the fire.

The spells hit it and melted, sending steam curling upward. A laugh left my mouth, inhuman and raspy. A demonic sound.

I saw Callie and Dizzy retreating, heading for the door. It had just gotten too dangerous for them. I was too dangerous for them. But I couldn’t come back. I’d forgotten how to turn away from the aching need to tear apart the world and every living thing within it.

Rage beat in time to my heart, begging me to kill.

No, to permanently maim.

No, to use a living being like a puppet. To turn the human race into my slaves.

But first, I would make this vampire beg to serve me. I would devour him.

He ran at me, his movements graceful, his speed slower than it had been. No, I realized, he was moving just as quickly—my reactions had sped up to match his. When he reached me, I dodged his strike and countered. His rib cracked.

Something deep inside of me quailed. My fire fluttered to life, but the cold quickly doused it again.

I picked up the vampire and threw him, slamming him against the far wall. The sweet agony of wrath pounded through me, harnessing the rage, the hate, the glory of destruction, and turning it into a vicious soup.

I rose into the sky—five feet, then ten—and hovered there. The rocks sailed toward me, and I made them circle my person as I drifted toward the faltering vampire. Shields of air filled the spaces between the rocks. If a spell or attack came, I would be completely covered.

Pull back, my beloved. Focus on me. Stay with me. Darius rose to his knees with obvious effort.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I realized how much pain that meant he was in.

My fire fluttered up again, but I couldn’t latch on to it. The cold surged up in greater power, sucking me under. Wiping out my ability to feel anything but hate. Making it impossible to want anything but destruction.

“Will you not fight, vampire?” My voice clawed out of my throat, sickly and cracking. “Are you content to remain on your knees before me, like a coward?”

“I will always remain on my knees before you, my love. I will fight for that right. I am yours.” The pasty monster turned back into a man. Deep burns covered parts of his skin. Rips and scrapes marred his chest and arms. A bump in his ribs suggested a bad break. “Find yourself, Reagan,” he said softly. “Come back to me.”

Rushing filled my ears. The need to kill flashed through me, impossible to deny. I flung a boulder at Darius, intending to crush him.

Eyes solemn, he didn’t move. He’d lived through some of the bleakest times in human history, not to mention other magical creatures’ attempts to wipe out his kind, only to wait on his knees for an out-of-control demon-woman to end his life. A thousand years for this…

It is always a woman. His thought echoed, something he’d said before our first intimate encounter in Seattle.

His undoing was always related to a woman.

The rock veered at the last moment, punching through the wall to his right.

I screamed in frustrated rage, warring with myself. More rocks flung themselves at the walls all around him. They crashed against the ground. Ricocheted off the ceiling. The door ripped off its hinges. The larger loading bay doors flew outward, twisted and bent. Glass shattered, littering the warehouse floor.

Still I hovered, in turmoil. Freezing. Trying to fight my way back, but not sure how.

“Remember your mother,” Darius said softly. I somehow heard him over all the noise of my destruction. “She, too, kneeled before you. Remember the stories you’ve told me in the quiet hours we’ve spent together. She would’ve given her life for you, as I will. Remember her.”

Memories crowded in, of my mother on the bright green grass in front of me, her head bowed, telling me to either end her life or fight for my own. Her again, this time decked out in leather and sweating as the forest around us roared with flame. More images, of a similar battle I had fought with myself, trying not to lose myself to the lure of my power. To the feel of my magic.

That had been with the fire.

Now I battled with the ice.

“It is within you, Reagan. Your strength far surpasses your power. Come back to me.”

Emotion welled up. Using it, I internally grabbed at the fire magic and yanked it up from my depths. Like ink in water, the two halves of my magic feathered around each other, but they would not merge.

Balls of flame sprang to life throughout the warehouse. I dropped a few feet in the air. Any rocks I hadn’t yet thrown dropped with me, becoming ten times heavier. The rage receded and the agony of heat rose until the two were nearly the same potency.

I inhaled a lungful of sweet air, sighing it out in relief a moment later. Both halves of my magic throbbed, equally functional but not very strong. It was all I could manage.

“Can you rise higher?” Darius asked me, standing in jerky movements. He clearly hurt something awful.

A pang of guilt hit me. The rocks around me plunked down onto the concrete, becoming too heavy for me to keep afloat. The fire kept on, though, moving lazily through the air.

Wanting to make his sacrifice worth something, I focused on the dull ache of cold and tried to push myself higher. Instead, exhaustion came over me and I sank. An echo of his thoughts twirled, just outside of my grasp.

“That’s it, I think.” I let the fire wink out. “That’s all I’ve got.” I shook my head, the guilt intensifying. I half wished I couldn’t remember the things I did under the influence of the cold power. “I’m sorry about…you know.”

A furrow creased his brow as he stiffly walked toward me. “You have learned to cap your fire magic.”

I frowned as he stopped in front of me and feathered a thumb across one of my eyebrows. I may not have gotten enough of a hold on the ice magic to stay sane, but at least I could use it to prevent the fire from making me look weird. You had to look at the silver lining.

“A cap?” I asked, surprised. I’d thought he was going to comment on my apology. He usually told me not to be absurd.

“You hold back. You don’t give yourself to it. Just now, you pulled back the ice magic until it was manageable, like your fire magic. When it is manageable, it is also greatly diminished. You are trying to find a happy, safe medium with the ice as you did with the fire. It lessens your power.”

“Ah. Well, I’m not sure if you noticed, but I nearly killed you just now. With the fire, I burned half of a forest once. A forest. I’m not safe. I have to find the happy medium, as you said, so the power won’t destroy me or those around me.”

He shook his head. His thumb was now tracing the edge of my bottom lip. “I don’t think that’s it. I think you need to find another way to deal with the power.” He dropped his hand to my shoulder. “I need to get dressed. I want to talk to the dual mages.”

“To get healed faster?” I asked, limping after him. Now that I was back to normal, each injury was trying to pull the diva act so I’d notice it.

Callie’s head, still covered in the helmet, poked in through the doorway. When she saw us walking toward her, the rest of her body made an appearance, decked out in another classic sweat suit. If “classic” meant fluorescent green velvet and obscene messages scrawled across the chest.

“Is it over—” Her eyes widened as she looked past us. “Holy bluebells, Reagan.” Her gaze traveled to the ceiling, then the row of open loading docks. “You’ve never destroyed the place like this. And here Darius worried you weren’t improving.”

“She isn’t,” Darius said. He was great for honest answers, though I rarely wanted to hear them. “She needs near death to enact the other half of her magic, and then she loses herself in the power. Callie—”

“Good God, Reagan, look at this.” Dizzy stepped into the doorway, staring like Callie was. “We heard the commotion, but I didn’t realize all this was going on.”

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