Home > Charmfall (The Dark Elite #3)

Charmfall (The Dark Elite #3)
Author: Chloe Neill


His fur was silvery gray. His eyes shifted color between sky blue and spring green, and his ears were flat against his head.

I’d tripped and fallen, which put me at eye level with the giant werewolf in front of me. He growled deep and low, and my heart stuttered a little . . . until he padded forward and nuzzled my arm.

“I’m fine,” I assured him, hopping to my feet. I may have been okay, but my jeans probably weren’t going to recover anytime soon. The tunnels beneath Chicago were damp and dirty, and they left brown marks on my knees.

“Frick,” I muttered, dusting them off the best I could and blowing choppy dark hair from my eyes. “I really liked these jeans.” Maybe for once it was a good thing I’d be back in a plaid school uniform tomorrow morning.

A flash of light filled the tunnel, and a sixteen-year-old boy in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt appeared in the hallway where the wolf had been.

“The jeans are the last thing you need to worry about right now, Lily,” he said, ruffling a hand through his dark blond hair. “I beat you in that last lap by a full ten seconds.”

“I fell,” I pointed out, blushing a little as I looked into his blue eyes. “Besides, you have four legs. I only have two.”

He made a sarcastic sound, but winked at me. That didn’t exactly stop the blushing. Actually, Jason and I had been dating for a few weeks now, and I still blushed a lot. He was just, you know, cute. The kind of cute that gave you goose bumps and made your heart flutter.

The sound of splashing echoed through the tunnels, followed by the sound of heavy panting. This time, it was just two teenagers. Scout Green, my slightly weird BFF, and Michael Garcia, her totally adorable would-be boyfriend, stood in the threshold to the next tunnel. (Would-be, if she let him. He was still working on it.)

She was one of my suitemates at the über-snotty St. Sophia’s School for Girls. Michael and Jason were juniors like us, but they attended a private school a few blocks away from ours.

“You guys okay?” I asked.

“We’re good,” Scout said, but she didn’t sound thrilled about it.

“I won,” Michael said, jumping around the tunnel like he’d just crossed a goal line and spiked a ball. “I am the champion. The champion! Ahhhhh! Ahhh! The crowd goes wild!”

Scout rolled her eyes, and Jason gave him a fist bump.


“Yeah, it really was,” Michael said, dark curls bouncing as he pranced around Scout like it would actually impress her. Normally it wouldn’t, but there was a tiny smile at one corner of her mouth this time. Maybe she was a little impressed.

“So we’ve done our sprints,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “What’s next on the list?”

Jason pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket and opened it up. “Recommended Adept Workout Number Two,” he began.

“Is it, ‘commence being awesome’?” Michael asked.

“It is not,” Jason said. “It’s dodge ball.”

We all smiled. Dodge ball was one of our favorites, ’cause our version had nothing to do with lining up in a row like in gym.

See, we were Adepts—teenagers with magic. And I’m not talking about magic tricks or smoke and mirrors. I’m talking real magic—vampires and werewolves and spellcasting—and that was just the stuff I knew about.

As it turns out, the world was full of magic. (That fell into the category of “things that totally shocked me,” which also includes turducken and gladiator sandals. Who do those things look good on?) A lucky few teenagers with some special skill or quality got a taste of magic while they were young. Scout, for example, could bind and cast spells. I wielded firespell, which meant I could control lights and send out blasts of power that could knock out bad guys. Michael could read architecture—he could put his hands on a building and figure out what had happened there recently.

And Jason Shepherd, my boyfriend, was a werewolf. He said being able to transform wasn’t exactly magic, but part of an ancient curse; I wasn’t sure about all the details, but being a werewolf apparently meant superstrength and a unique ability to fight. And, I mean, it was awesome to watch your boyfriend turn into a wolf and attack the bad guys in the middle of a battle. I also knew he was careful to stay away from me when the moon was full. It was too dangerous to be around him, he said.

Problem was, the gift of magic was only temporary—like an upside to puberty. Adepts like me promised we’d let the magic go in a few years, when our time came. We respected the natural order of things. Reapers, on the other hand, were magic users who started stealing the souls of others as a last-ditch attempt to hang on to their power.

That’s why we were standing in the dark and dirty tunnels beneath Chicago on an otherwise gorgeous November Sunday. Adepts were responsible for keeping the Reapers—or the Dark Elite, as they called themselves—in check. That meant a lot of late nights after school running around in the dark and a lot of keeping our fingers crossed that we wouldn’t run into anything we couldn’t handle.

We weren’t always lucky.

Anyway, when we weren’t chasing Reapers or taking classes, the Adept higher-ups decided we should get in workouts to keep our magic sharp.

“Dodge ball it is,” Scout said, rubbing her hands together. “Who gets the short straw this time?”

“Obviously me,” Michael grumbled. His magic was more about information than offense, so he always had to do the dodging. And Jason could really only nip at us, which left the magical aggression to Scout and me.

She looked at me and grinned. “Rock, paper, scissors?”

“All day long,” I said. I walked over and faced her, and put out my hands. One in a fist, one palm up. “You ready?”

“All day long,” she repeated, putting her hands out.

We counted down together—“One, two, three, go”—then picked our sides. She picked rock . . . but I picked paper.

“Booyah,” I said, covering her hands with mine. “Paper beats rock. My turn to throw.”

Scout grumbled a few choice words, but picked up her skull-faced messenger bag from our dump spot in a dry bit of tunnel and slid it over her shoulder. “Fine, newbie. Just try not to electrocute us,” she said, then pointed between Jason and me. “And no cheating.”

“Would I do such a thing?” Jason asked, sliding me a glance.

“Frankly, yes. You would. But that doesn’t matter now. Adept, ho!” she said, then turned around and began walking backward, taunting me. “Bring it.”

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