Magic Misled (Lizzie Grace #7) - Keri Arthur

Chapter One

Samuel Kang was the picture of classic male perfection—oval-shaped face, chiseled cheekbones, and an extremely engaging smile. His shoulders were lovely and wide, his frame lean but muscular, and he had long legs that looked damn fine in close-fitting jeans—the very first thing I’d noticed when he’d walked through our café’s door.

The second thing I’d noticed—when my gaze had finally wandered back to his face—were his eyes. They were mono-lidded and the most glorious shade of emerald green, which meant—despite the fact he had the crimson hair of a royal witch—there was a smidge of human somewhere in his background. Full-blood witches had silver eyes—even mine were now that color, though they’d initially been the exact same shade as his.

Unfortunately, Samuel Kang hadn’t walked into our café to enjoy a coffee or a cake, and he certainly wasn’t in the Faelan Reservation to spend time in one of the famous spa resorts.

He was here to catch a killer.

And I was very much a suspect.

With good reason, of course. I might not have actually killed Clayton Marlowe, but I’d certainly helped orchestrate it.

“I have to say, Mrs. Marlowe,” his voice deliciously deep and melodic, “that you’re the furthest thing from a grieving widow I’ve ever seen.”

I raised an eyebrow. “He was my husband in name only. The marriage was never consummated and was recently annulled—as you’re no doubt aware. And my name is Grace. Lizzie Grace.”

“Indeed.” Another smile flirted with his lips. I tried my best to ignore it, as I suspected he used his charm and good looks to disarm. “Tell me, in your own words, what happened that night.”

“Why?” My voice was flat. “Hasn’t a ‘death by unknown supernatural entity’ verdict been given?”

“By the coroner, yes. That doesn’t mean the case is closed or that all parties involved should not be brought to justice.”

Great. Just great. I picked up my hot chocolate and took a sip. Belle—who was not only my best friend and co-owner of the café, but also my familiar—had liberally laced it with whiskey, and it burned all the way down. While it did help ease the inner uncertainty, it was a damn good thing I wasn’t driving home tonight. The mug was large, and drinking it all might well put me over the limit.

“You’ve no doubt heard the recordings by the Black Lantern investigators,” I said, “so you already know everything I did and said that evening.”

The Black Lantern Society was a group of witches, werewolves, and vampires who worked behind the scenes to right wrongs and bring justice to those who escaped it—via whatever means necessary. They also had an arm that worked openly in the courts, and had both psychic auditors and truth seekers on their books. The latter pairing had not only recorded my memories of the events leading up to my disastrous marriage, but also everything that had led to Clayton’s bloody and brutal death.

Technically, you didn’t actually tell them everything. Belle’s comment whispered through my mind, her tone gently amused. Because you totally omitted the vital part Gabe, Katie, and the wild magic played in it all. How you managed to conceal all that, I have no idea. At the very least, they should have been aware there were memories they couldn’t access.

Maybe our connection had something to do with it. I wasn’t telepathic by any means, but she was my familiar. That not only made mind-to-mind communication possible, but also allowed us to draw on each other’s strength—something we’d been forced to do more than a few times over the past months. Maybe, after all these years, some of your expertise has rubbed off.

Magic might work that way, but psychic powers don’t. She paused. Or, at least, they shouldn’t. But this reservation doesn’t seem to like the words “shouldn’t” and “impossible.”

Considering you gained precognition after we merged to oust the White Lady from your body, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.

No, but it could also be the presence of the wild magic.

Which was another distinct possibility. My mother had unknowingly been pregnant with me when she’d been sent to control a newly formed wellspring. Though she’d been successful, the effort had almost killed her. It most certainly should have killed me. Instead, the wild magic had somehow infused with my DNA, becoming a deeply hidden force that had waited years to be unlocked and unleashed.

The first cracks in those inner locks had appeared the night Clayton tried to rape me. They’d been utterly smashed the night he’d died.