Kissed by Fire(7)

By: Kimber White

It had to be the mage. She said she’d lived with him since she was thirteen. What was she now? Nineteen, twenty? Maybe some of his magic had clung to her after all those years. He’d died in her arms. I didn’t know how it worked for witches. His blood stained her shirt and she had some of it in her hair.

Gideon came to my side. He extended a hand out to Shae. Such a simple gesture. It should have seemed normal. I’d just introduced her to him. He was being polite. A little awestruck, Shae seemed to go on autopilot. She stammered out a hello then let Gideon take her hand in his.

Fire scorched my insides. My vision blackened. A protective rage bubbled to the surface, so intense I nearly shifted right there.

Gideon and the others sensed my dragon stirring and closed ranks around me. Loch put a firm hand on my shoulder and drew me back. That was always his role. The peacemaker. Gideon was almost as somber and serious as I was. He shot me a quizzical eye, and slowly dropped Shae’s hand.

Finn stepped forward, smirking. He cracked some joke like he always did, then made a big show of shaking Shae’s hand next. Kian and Gideon made subtle movements placing themselves a little in front of me. If I made a move toward Finn, I knew they’d try to knock me on my ass.

“Well,” Gideon said, “now that we’ve got introductions out of the way, you mind if we borrow our brother for a few minutes, Shae?”

“What?” The color had drained from her face. Tiny beads of sweat formed on her upper lip.

“I’m sorry,” Loch said. “You’ve got to think we’re a bunch of rude assholes. I swear we’ve got better manners than this toward guests. Make yourself comfortable for a few minutes. There’s a full bar over there. Down that hallway you’ll find a you need it...and…”

“Finn!” I said. “I’ll make sure Shae has everything she needs.”

My brothers exchanged a look. Again, I felt like blasting their damn faces off. My dragon rumbled through me. A light hand on my arm sent calming warmth across my skin. Shae looked up at me. She wasn’t smiling, but some dark knowledge lit her eyes. I can’t explain it, but it felt like instinct drew her to me and settled the beast inside.

“It’s okay,” she said. “I could use a few minutes alone. It’s been…”

I turned to her, melting. God. Loch was right. I was a rude asshole. This girl had been traumatized in a way that would cut most people off at the knees. But here she stood, strong and trusting. The look in her eyes gutted me. More than anything, I wanted to scoop her in my arms again and whisk her across the skyline. The memory of her touch as she clung to my dragon still lingered over my skin. I wanted more. I wanted so much more.

“Of course,” I said, surprised I could form a coherent sentence. But, I had to check my dragon. My brothers were right. There were things we needed to discuss outside of Shae’s presence.

Kian had a hand on my back. I bristled, but tore myself away from Shae. She stood in the center of the room, hugging her arms around her. The door closed behind us and I followed my brothers down the hall. Every step I took away from Shae felt like a knife blade through my heart.

We went down twelve floors to the main conference room. We held Brandhart Enterprises board meetings here. Gideon went to the intercom in the center of the table and buzzed Marie, our receptionist downstairs. He told her about Shae and asked her to make sure she was taken care of.

“Of course, Mr. Brandhart,” Marie said, sounding a little shocked. It was no wonder. Marie had been with our family company for almost thirty years. Even she didn’t know what we were, but she never questioned the magic that kept us from aging, at least to her human eyes.

I turned my back on my brothers and stared out at the Chicago skyline. Loch came to me first.

“ obviously things didn’t go as planned at the magic shop. I assume you have a good reason for bringing a human woman here?”

Gideon growled behind me. From the corner of my eye, I saw Loch put a hand up, gesturing for him to stay back. Good call, I thought.

“Wolves got there before I did,” I said. My dragon swirled inside of me. This was bad. I’d never felt so out of control like this. Usually my brothers and I could keep each other calm when the fire got too hot. Now, the only thing I wanted was to be near Shae.

“Wolves?” Finn leaned against the table. “How many? What did they say?”

“They didn’t say anything. They were feral. Red-eyed bloodlust. I didn’t see their Alpha, but my guess is he was a Tyrannous. They were sent there to kill. The old man who ran that shop was harmless. Mostly white magic. Novelties.”