Magic on the Storm - By Devon Monk

Chapter One

Two months of self-defense classes, mixed martial arts, and weapons training did not make it hurt any less when I was thrown over my opponent’s shoulder and slammed into the ground.

Yes, I should have tucked and rolled. Would have too, if he hadn’t kept hold of my arm and twisted at just the right instant to knock my balance off and make me sprawl like a dead jumper waiting for my chalk outline.

“Give up?” he asked.

My right wrist still locked in his grip, I stretched out my left hand and grabbed his ankle, leveraged to pull down, and twisted. I broke his hold on my wrist and rolled up onto my feet. I got off the mat and out of arm’s reach quick.

“I’ll take that as a no, then?” Zayvion Jones asked. He was a little sweaty, a lot relaxed, standing halfway across the mat from me. Barefoot, he had on a pair of jeans that, if there were any justice in the world, would not let him flex and move and stretch the way he did in a fight, and a nice black T-shirt that defined the muscles of his chest, his thick, powerful arms, and his flat, hard stomach.

He was every kind of good-looking in the dictionary.

“Take it as a hell no,” I said sweetly.

That got a grin out of him, his teeth a flash of white against his dark skin, his thick lips open enough that I suddenly wanted to drop this whole I-kill-you/you-kill-me act and kiss the man.

Instead, I rolled my shoulder to make sure my arm was still in its socket—Zayvion Jones played for keeps—and tried to come up with a game plan to tip the fight to my advantage. He might have bendy denim on his side, but I had something better. I had magic in my bones.

My shoulder sore but still attached and functioning, I stepped back onto the mat.

I could use magic on him. It might be worth ending up in bed with a fever just to take Mr. Superpowerful-Guardian-of-the-Gates down a notch during a practice match.

The void stone necklace, a chunk of rock caught up and caged between silver and copper whorls and glass beads, rested against my sternum and made the magic in me lazy and slow. I could still use magic, but it took a little more effort when I was wearing the stone.

If I’d known about void stones, I’d have found a way to steal one months ago. Not that they were common knowledge. The Authority had lots of tricks up their sleeve that they didn’t like the common magic user to know about.

“Is there a particular way you’d like to end up on the floor this time?” he asked as he shifted his stance and waited for me to attack. “Or do you just want me to surprise you?”

“Gee, if I get a choice, how about if I end up on top this time?” I gave him that slow blink-smile combination that always got him into bed.

He licked his lips, and a flash of uncertainty narrowed his eyes. “I thought you said you wanted to fight.”

I strolled up to him and paused. Out of arm’s reach—I’m not dumb. “I thought you were asking me how I wanted this to end.”

Zay studied me, his brown eyes just brown, no hint of the gold that using magic always sparked there. As far as I could tell, he hadn’t been using magic for the past couple months. Ever since my test to see whether I could become a part of the Authority, and the craziness with the gate between life and death opening right in the middle of the test room, things had been quiet.

And I mean quiet. I’d Hounded only a couple magical crimes for Detective Paul Stotts. My dead father, who had taken up residence in my head, seemed to be so distant, he mostly appeared in my dreams. And my training—both physical and magical—with members of the Authority had been exhausting, but a long way from life threatening.

Things were actually pretty good. I liked that. Liked not having to worry whether I’d survive the day. And it wasn’t just my life that was better for the downtime. Over the past several weeks I’d watched Zayvion change from a somber, tightly controlled, dutiful man, to someone a little surprised he was enjoying life.

Time off from his duties with the Authority looked good on him. Sexy.

“I wasn’t talking about ending this,” he said, and it took me a minute