Magic in the Shadows - By Devon Monk

Chapter One

Rush hour traffic below my apartment window breathed a deep note behind the rise and fall of winter wind. Rain tapped like pinpricks against glass. The only noise besides my rapid breathing was the cold water pouring into the bathroom sink.

That, and my dead father’s voice.

“Allison.” My father’s voice again. Distant, as if he strained to pitch it across a crowded room, a crowded street, a crowded city.

I was the only one in my apartment. And my father was really dead this time.

I’d gone to his funeral that morning and seen him buried—literally watched as his body was lowered into the grave. There was no mistake, no corpse stealing, no weird magical rituals this time. This time, he didn’t have a second chance, third chance. He was well and truly gone.


“Oh, for cripes’ sake,” I said—yes, out loud—to my empty apartment. “You have got to be kidding me. What the hell, Dad?”

The bathroom mirror in front of me showed my panic. I was still a little too pale from the recent hospital stay, which made the opalescent mark of magic look even brighter where it wrapped from my fingertips up my right arm, shoulder, and onto the edges of my collarbone, jaw, and temple. My dark hair was mussed from kissing Zayvion Jones a few minutes before in the kitchen, but even though one eye was obscured by hair, a shadow stained my eyes. That shadow, I knew, was my father.

He wasn’t in the room. He was in me.

This was going to put a crimp in my date tonight.

You must, my dead father said in my ear, less than a whisper, more than a thought.

Must nothing. Not this time. Not ever again.

“No. No way,” I said. “No to whatever you were about to tell me. Listen,” I said, cool as a 911 operator talking someone down from a ledge, “you’re dead. I’m sorry about that, but I am not going to let you possess me. So follow the light, or go to the other side, or hang around your own house and haunt your accounting ledgers or something. You do not get to stay in my head.”


But I knew my dad. Nothing was not a guarantee he was gone.

How did one dispossess oneself, preferably before one’s hot date in a few hours? The only thing that came to mind was vampires and thresholds and not inviting them across. I doubted vampire stuff would work on my disembodied father. He might have been a soulless bastard, but he was not an actual vampire, since vampires, as far as I knew, did not actually exist.

And even though I was putting up a brave front, it was hard to ignore the fist-hard thump of my heart against my ribs, the salt of cold sweat on my lips.

“Daniel Beckstrom,” I said, putting all my focus and concentration on the words, giving them the weight of my will, “leave my mind, leave my body, and leave me alone. I do not give you permission to be a part of me.”

Sweat ran a line down my temple. I watched my eyes. Watched as the shadow drew away from my pinprick pupils, dissolving outward like clouds retreating from the sun, until a thick ring of night edged my familiar pale emerald irises.

I blinked, and even the ring of darkness was gone.


I exhaled to slow my breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. I was fine until I swallowed. The taste of wintergreen and leather rolled down the back of my throat. My father’s scents. In my mouth. In me.

He wasn’t gone. Not at all. He was still there somewhere, a moth-wing flutter, soft and fast, behind my eyes.

I had thought that flutter was just another side effect from all the magic I’d used lately, another price to pay for trying to save those kidnapped girls and trying to save Anthony.

Bloody memories came to me unbidden: the warehouse with the abducted girls tied down by knotted spells; the kid, Anthony, broken and bloody on the floor. My friend Pike’s mutilated face, his remaining eye fever-bright as he held my hand and made me promise, made me swear to look after the ragtag group of Hounds he called family. Just like he called me family. And my father’s corpse . . .

I pushed that memory away. The girls were dead or returned to their families. Anthony was back with his mom, or maybe in juvie; I wasn’t sure. Pike was gone. Dead.

Just like my father should be.