Nightfall (Blood Magic #1) - L.H. Cosway Page 0,2

stammer. I’d noticed it the first time we met, but I never mentioned it, which I think she appreciated. I wasn’t generally in the business of befriending teenagers, but there was just something about Florence that called to me. We were kindred spirits and had a lot in common since we’d both been raised by single dads, though mine was far nicer than hers. Growing up, my dad worked a lot, leaving me the epitome of a latchkey kid. He wasn’t around much, but he tried his best.

“Do you want some tea?” I asked as she settled on the couch, her long brown hair tied back in a dirty ponytail. It looked like it’d been a while since she’d last showered.

“Yes, please.”

I hung my bag up on a hook in the entryway then went to turn on the kettle.

“You can use my shower after your nap,” I told her casually. “Oh, and there’s some change on the coffee table if you want to go downstairs to the laundry room and wash your clothes.”

There was no response. I turned and found her staring glassy-eyed into her hands. “Oh, Flo. What’s the matter?”

She sniffled and blinked away her tears. “You’re always so nice to me. I’m not used to it. And thank you f-f-for offering for me to use your shower. Dad smashed the mirror in our bathroom a few days ago when he was drunk. There are shards of glass everywhere, and he won’t let me clean them up.”

I stared at her, anger bubbling inside me. “That’s it, I’m going to have a strong word with him.”

Florence vehemently shook her head. “No! Please don’t. There’s no changing him. Besides, I only have a few more months before I turn eighteen. Then I’ll legally be able to go out and find my own place. I’ve been saving every penny. That’s w-why I haven’t washed my clothes in a while.”

I blew out a breath, hands on my hips. “Well, like I said, you’re free to take whatever change is on the table.” I tried to keep from sounding angry. God knew she had enough of that to deal with at home. But my heart broke for her. Florence was a kind, bright young kid. She deserved so much better than the shitty hand she’d been dealt.

I finished making the tea and grabbed two bars of Turkish Delight from the fridge. I placed a cup and a bar down on the table for Florence before taking mine into my bedroom. Chilled Turkish Delight was one of my favourite treats. I knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing to eat right before going to sleep, but after the night I’d had I needed the pick me up.

After washing and changing into a baggy T-shirt to sleep in, I climbed under the covers, sipping on tea as I replayed the events of the night. I was incredibly lucky the store hadn’t been robbed, otherwise I’d be out of a job. I was also lucky that those three weirdos were there, especially Blondie. If he hadn’t intervened, then that scumbag would’ve gotten away with an entire register’s worth of cash for the second time.

I thought about his odd golden eyes and wondered where he was from. The faint Eastern European lilt in his accent told me he wasn’t from around here. I wondered how exactly he’d gotten the thief to walk out of the store without a single protest. Then again, he was tall, broad-shouldered, and quite intimidating looking, not to mention he’d gotten hold of the knife. My would-be thief didn’t have a leg to stand on.

It was after midday when I woke up, feeling groggy. I rarely woke up refreshed anymore, haunted by one too many bad dreams. Florence was no longer in my living room, but she’d tidied up and left a thank you note on the coffee table.

Thanks for letting me catch some sleep on your couch. You’re my guardian angel. Flo. x.

My chest tightened at her heartfelt note. I was only twenty-six and she was almost a legal adult, but some days I seriously considered fostering her. Anything to get her away from her psychopath of a father.

Today was my day off. Normally, I’d take the opportunity to go out with friends and have some fun, but I’d been avoiding socialising the last few months. My boyfriend, Matthew, died earlier this year. The coroner deemed it a suicide, judging from the number of drugs in his system. At first, I’d refused to believe