This Wicked Magic - By Michele Hauf Page 0,1

him smirk and release the pole. He stepped out onto the street, his well-worn leather boots clicking the cobblestones, and scanned left then right. Cabs generally tracked the main avenues.

The darkness had grown to an inky maw separating him from the brightness of the Lizard Lounge’s neon sign and his glowing outpost. Putting up his left hand, he spread his tattooed fingers wide. The entire hand was gloved with spellcraft tattoos used for a multitude of magics. He focused on the electrical connection his body had to the world and tried to see a map of all the streetlights as if a hologram in the air before him. Faint lines formed but quickly puffed away. His demonic passengers weakened his magic. With a huff, he gave up the read and dropped his hand to his side.

Across the narrow street and down the alley, he sighted a vehicle with its headlights on, facing an alcove he couldn’t see from his point of view. The long white car was a dash away through darkness, but it was the only action he suspected he’d see on this street for a while. And without firm control of a tracking spell, he would be left to walk home blindly. Perhaps he could hitch a ride?

The carrion demon again scented its target, and Certainly felt his body sway and stumble. Away from the light.

If only he’d mastered the art of fire magic, he could draw up a fireball to lead his way home. Fire was about the only elemental magic witches avoided, for it could bring their deaths. Though some witches had mastered it. CJ hadn’t time for it over the decades when he’d been gorging his knowledge on all other magics.

“Hitchhiking it is,” he muttered, and made a daring dash for the deceptive safety of the car’s headlights.

* * *

“Yuck. A werewolf,” Libby said.

Viktorie St. Charles walked around her sister Libertie, who stood posed, hands on hips, body encased in a white Tyvek cleaning suit, before tonight’s job. Her sister’s toe tapped the asphalt in time to the tunes blasting through her ever-present earbuds.

Vika tugged a white mesh cap over her hair, tucking up some stray red strands. With a step, her Tyvek-covered flat shoes squished in a pile of werewolf guts.

No one had ever said financial stability was glamorous.

“Twenty minutes,” Vika stated, inspecting the slick mess oozing about her foot. Lemon and myrrh would take out the smell and the blood. “You pick up the chunks. I’ll start spraying down the brick.”

Giving her the thumbs-up signal, Libby wielded the black zip-up morgue bag with her pink latex-gloved hands and bent over the task. “This guy is still in solid form in places.”

“The silver must have worked quickly. Usually what happens in werewolves if it doesn’t have time to course completely through the blood.”

Vika aimed a handheld spray canister filled with vinegar, water and rosemary, bespelled to remove all trace of DNA, at the brick wall behind the parking lot for a down-on-its-luck bistro. She worked efficiently from top to bottom, directing the stream toward a center point that collected all the refuse for easier cleanup with the portable wet vac that waited in the back of their work vehicle.

They worked in tandem, having done this for years, both sisters knowing the job well. Cleaning was to Vika as music was to Libby.

Years previously, a date with a sexy werewolf had ended in him getting staked with a chunk of silver by a vampire rival. Vika hadn’t been attached to the big lug—first date, don’t you know—but she had liked him and had been hoping for a one-night stand, with him in were form, not werewolf, that is. She did not do fur during sex. The vampire had chuckled and offered to fulfill her desires, until she’d kicked him in the ’nads. Didn’t matter what sort of paranormal breed you were. A kick to the gonads would take down any man for a few minutes.

As the vampire had hobbled away, Vika stood amid the scattered bits of werewolf and the idea of leaving behind such a mess had been reprehensible. She’d managed to get the biggest pieces into a nearby garbage can, and with a run to a nearby supermarket, had purchased some bleach and rubber gloves. The werewolf had deserved a decent burial. It had been the best she could offer at the time.

Needless to say, she’d been spied by a Council member while tidying up the crime scene, and the next thing she