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.A frontal assault would be a really dumb idea.Of course, it might be his only idea …“Don’t look so glum, De Santos.” That cold voice snapped Rafe back to attention and frustration.“I’m willing to refrain from injuring her, and you.You just need to agree to cooperate.”“With what?”“Pay attention,” Lionel snapped.“With dismantling the Accord.As I just said.”“But you still haven’t said why.”Lionel stepped forward, his tall frame casting a long, disfigured shadow as he passed under the single, bare lightbulb in the small cluttered storeroom.“Because now is the last chance I have.We’re nearing the end of our ability to remain concealed.You said it yourself.Soon, vermin like you and the damned werewolves will be able to walk among human society.And witches—the true heirs to the world—will be viewed as nothing more than another kind of freak.We’ll be lumped in with you degenerates.If we’re going to act to seize our power, the moment is now.If we strike now and reveal everything to the public immediately, I can control the situation.I can make sure the masses see the distinction between witch and Other.We will become their allies in the struggle against the rise of the unnatural creatures—”“Holy shit,” Rafe breathed.“You are not just crazy, you are absolutely, certifiably insane.”Cut off from his vitriolic rant, Lionel narrowed his eyes.“Insult me all you like.It does nothing to change my plans.I don’t require that you assist me willingly.”The witch stood almost directly under the light now, and the angle cast his face with strange planes and angles.Rafe saw the contrast between dark and light and tensed.Lionel raised his arm, pointing his fingers at Rafe’s chest.“I am one of the finest witches of my age.I can make you cooperate.”Rafe paused, weighing the risk of one rash act.“Do you think I’m hesitant to bespell you, De Santos?” Lionel’s voice became louder and more strident.“I am not, you know.I’ll do whatever I need to, no hesitation at all.”Hesitation.Rafe remembered Tess’s words and stopped hesitating.He leapt forward.Straight at the lightbulb above the old man’s head.* * *Tess woke to the sound of glass breaking and opened her eyes to see not much more than she could see with them closed.The room around her was pitch dark.She started to sit up, hoping it would help her get her bearings, but ended up diving right back to the floor, rolling out of the way as two large forms collided in the spot where she had just been sitting.She heard a curse and the growling scream of a big cat and added a curse of her own.Just as soon as she got out of the way.Stopping when she felt a stack of folding chairs at her back, Tess frantically tried to get her eyes to adjust to the darkness.Her grandfather would have made some comment about how if she were a better witch, she’d be able to cast a spell and get some light, but he was otherwise occupied.Trying to keep a three-hundred-odd-pound jaguar from feasting on his intestines.She could hear the sounds of the struggle, but it was quieter than she expected.This was the closest she’d ever gotten to an actual physical fight, and she’d always pictured them being louder, with lots of screaming and shouting and bellowing and the roar of the crowd.Instead, all she heard were grunts and harsh breathing and the sound of flesh and bone making impact.And since the crowd consisted of her, and the last thing she felt like doing was cheering, the scuff of bodies against the concrete floor provided the only accompaniment.Her eyes followed the sounds and finally picked up a flicker of golden light in the blackness.Rafe’s eyes.They glowed with a predatory fury as he wrestled across the floor with her grandfather.Thankfully he was managing to keep Lionel’s arms occupied and too busy to cast, or things would have been even more difficult for him.As it was, fighting Lionel Menzies wasn’t like fighting an ordinary seventy-five-year-old man.Her grandfather had the strength of magic, and had probably cast some sort of protective spell on himself before coming after them.Tess would have.If she could have.Damn it, but she felt useless.Here she was cowering up against a row of metal auditorium chairs while the man she’d fallen in love with—damn it again—tried to save their lives [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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