Witch Blood(4)

By: Anya Bast

“Oh, spare me. You’ve done enough horrible things to warrant this, Stefan, and don’t try to tell me you wouldn’t raise another demon if you could.”

“No,” he whispered, his head falling back from the pain.

“No? What do you mean, Stefan? Wasn’t it you who was going to sacrifice those four witches last winter to pull a demon through? If it wasn’t for the Coven, you would have succeeded. That alone makes you deserving of punishment.” She cocked her head to the side. “And aside from all that, what about Naomi Nelson, that earth witch you roasted when you were eighteen? What about Robin Taylor—”

He pulled his head forward and focused on her. “I can help you. Help…help find the demon. Right the…wrong.”

He was making bargains now, was he? How dare he try.

She opened her mouth to respond, but heat flared white-hot against her palm. They both cried out in pain. Isabelle snatched her scorched hand away. Damn it, she’d lost focus for a moment and he’d taken control from her.

Stefan rolled to the side, his hand between his legs, cupping his privates. Her hand hurt like she’d been holding it over a flame, but he had to be in more agony than she was. He’d burned himself in a very sensitive place in order to unseat her.

Isabelle raised power as fast as she could, despite the pain. The air crackled as Stefan also drew magick to defend himself. In the same moment, the entire limo lurched to the side. Isabelle slammed against the opposite seat and cried out as her back twisted. The limo came to a swerving, squealing, smoke-under-the-tires halt. She fell to the floor of the limo, her face contorting from the pain searing down her leg and through her lower back.

She glanced up through her tangled dark red hair, seeing Stefan kneeling on the floor of the vehicle in front of her, looking as though he might retch. Outside the sounds of boots pounding on pavement and shouting reached her ears.

Fighting through the discomfort, she resumed drawing magick and directed it at Stefan. Sensing the swift buildup within the confines of the limo, his head snapped up and he also tapped power. The air snapped with electricity from their combined efforts. It was a magickical showdown and they were both battling through injuries.

But his were worse.

Isabelle shot her hand out in a near unconscious effort to increase her power, commanding the water in Stefan’s body to do her bidding—to freeze.

The limo door opened. Confusion and fury from the unknown observers pressed against her empathy. The intense emotions around her settled like a bitter wine on the back of her tongue, but she focused all her attention on Stefan.

“No,” came a commanding male voice. “Stop it now.”

She ignored the order. Stefan’s spine snapped back as she intensified the freezing process. She had him now and, dear Lady, it had to hurt. It was nothing compared to what the demon had done to Angela, though.

Her sister had died the one way she’d always feared, by a demon’s hand. Angela had had nightmares about that since she’d been a child, after one of their “uncles” had related to them how demons killed their victims.

Isabelle had been the one to find her body, but she still couldn’t bring herself to visit those memories. Not in detail. Her mind had blocked them and she was grateful for that.

In front of her, Stefan keened.

Funny, Isabelle thought she’d feel satisfaction when this moment came, perhaps a release and a lifting of the heavy emotion that had weighed her down for so long. But she felt none of those things. She only felt sorrow.

“This is for Angela, Stefan,” she said woodenly. “This is my sister saying hello from the grave.”

Where was the fulfillment she thought she’d feel? Where was the righteous justification? She stared into Stefan’s eyes, watching pain explode his pupils. Her magickal grip faltered. She couldn’t do this…Damn it!

From her left, a man approached her. “Isabelle,” he said gently. “He’s the scum of the earth, but he didn’t kill your sister.”

Her face contorted, her eyes filling with tears. “He did. He’s the head of the Duskoff. Without the Duskoff, the demon wouldn’t exist.”