Home > Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(15)

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel #1)(15)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

A gust of frigid wind caused me to tighten my coat. The wind had been picking up, but we must have been near the place, or Ian wouldn’t have forced an unnecessary vow out of me.

“I’m going to glamour myself now,” I said, taking a pouch from my coat. Then I sprinkled the contents over my head while saying a few words he shouldn’t be able to translate.

Both auburn brows rose. “The fictional Elvish from The Lord of the Rings? What sort of spell uses a fictional language?”

Dammit, dammit, dammit! “When did you have time to learn every language ever spoken?” I demanded. “From what I know about you, you should have been too busy fucking everyone near you to bother with that kind of extensive linguistic study!”

His laughter rolled over me. “Know the best thing about being dismissed as an insatiable whore? People don’t mind their tongues around you. I’ve learned more information eavesdropping while I was mid-orgy than I have from spying on G7 summits, but that’s off topic. What’s on topic is that thus far, none of the spells you’ve uttered have made any sense. They seem to be only a collection of random words.”

I stopped before I took an instinctive step backward. Oh, no. If he tried to command the truth out of me . . .

He caught my flinch and moved closer. “Know what I think?” he asked in that deceptively smooth tone. “They’re not real spells at all. They’re camouflage to mask how powerful you are.”

Dammit times a hundred! But I couldn’t let him see that he’d scored a hit. That’s why I straightened my spine.

“How flattering, but if you live to be my age, you’ll realize only certain words have power. The rest have only been added by the uninitiated in order to make the spell sound better.”

“Bollocks,” he said in that same silky tone. “I yanked the guts out of a thousand-year-old necromancer to read his entrails for information recently. He never once flinched, know why?” Now he was only centimeters away. “He was trapped inside the mirror spell. It froze him in place as if time itself had stopped. But when I used that same spell on you, you were grabbing weapons without an ounce of pain as motivation. Explain that.”

I couldn’t let him force the truth out of me. I couldn’t. I braced, ready to freeze him in a time trap if he even started to say the words “I command you.”

As if he sensed the power coiling inside me, his mouth curled and he stepped back. “No need for dramatics. I won’t use one of my commands to force you to tell me. Besides, I think I already know your secret.”

“Do you?” I asked, fighting a sense of dread.

He raked me with a gaze. “Time will tell, won’t it?” Then, he waved almost diffidently in the direction of the pond: “Your glamour’s in place, so it’s time to pay the troll.”

“The troll?” I repeated, turning around, but all I saw was the clear, flat surface of the pond.

Another careless wave. “You can’t see him until the bridge becomes visible. He’s under it, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” I said sardonically, but I was glad to have the subject change. “And where is the bridge?”

“Right in front of us, but it won’t appear until we cast in an acceptable, bespelled offering.”

With that, he withdrew something from his jacket. When he opened his hand, I saw a diamond-studded gold locket suspended from a long, thick gold chain. An antique, judging from the old-fashioned clasps that modern jewelry didn’t have.

“Expensive,” I noted.

He gave me a humorless grin. “Anything less and we risk becoming a snack. Enraged mafiosos are more merciful than a troll who thinks he’s been disrespected.”

I didn’t know what this creature was, but it couldn’t be a troll. To my knowledge, those creatures didn’t exist. Or did they? It felt like I’d been wrong about so much lately . . .

“Take my hand,” Ian said, bringing my attention back to him. “We have to throw it in together for the offering to be considered from both of us.”

I laced my fingers in his and waited for his nod. When it came, we threw the necklace into the pond. The surface rippled from the impact, then rippled in a stronger way after the jewelry sank out of sight.

“He must’ve liked that one,” Ian said, watching the pond. “The bigger the ripple, the more he’s pleased by the gift.”

By the time he was done speaking, moonlight illuminated a bridge that hadn’t been there before. It looked far older than the manufactured aged appearance of Belvedere Castle. It also appeared to be made entirely of stone. But the most impressive sight was at the end of the bridge.

The castle that materialized was twice the size of Belvedere. It hovered over the water, covering almost the entire pond. Unlike the bridge, it didn’t appear to be made of stone. In fact, I couldn’t determine what the multicolored walls, turrets, and balconies were made of. If I had to guess, I’d say they appeared to be impossibly large opals.

“Beautiful,” I breathed.

Ian’s mouth quirked. “Not upset that a magical abode has been under the council’s noses this entire time?”

Please. I’d long suspected that something magical resided in Central Park. How else could you explain such a large tract of the most expensive real estate in the world remaining undeveloped? “No,” was all I said.

“Then come.” Ian extended his arm with a hint of a grin. “I’ve decided our act tonight will be the fighting couple. Shouldn’t present too much of a challenge, should it?”

I felt a wry smile tug at my mouth. “I think we’ll manage.”

Chapter 13

We were almost at the end of the bridge, when a strong gust whipped my hair around. My hair clip fell out and was immediately snatched up by the breeze. It landed in the pond. A second later, the surface heaved as if a car had plunged into it instead of a small piece of hair jewelry. Ian pulled me closer, his other hand disappearing into his coat pocket.

“What’s rattled him?” he muttered.

A shadow suddenly covered us despite it being dark out. When I tried to turn around to see what had cast it, Ian’s tight grip stopped me. Then a noise like thunder crashed over us.


My whole body tensed. I recognized what that rumble was saying. Ian didn’t, but he took it as a threat. He shoved me toward the doors and withdrew the three-pronged end of a small yet lethal-looking trident from his coat. The weapon’s middle blade was silver but the outer two appeared to be made of some kind of bone . . .

“Don’t!” I shouted when I tasted the magic emanating from the creature. I caught Ian’s arm mid-thrust. The deadly bone tips of the trident missed the creature, but before Ian could regroup, I threw myself between it and him. Ian lowered the three-pronged weapon and grabbed me.

“Are you out of your mind? That thing will eat you!”

No, he wouldn’t. I’d recognized the taste of the glamour surrounding the fearsome creature. That glamour could only come from one source—me, and I had only gifted it to one creature.

“Nechtan?” I asked with a surge of joy.

Bulbous-looking lips pulled back in a smile revealing rows of huge teeth that one would expect from a troll. “Arr-eee-ell!” he repeated, then hopped up and down in joy.

If he’d been as large as he appeared, his treating the bridge like a trampoline would have shaken many of the stones loose. But they didn’t as much as quiver, because the creature looming over us was no bigger than a child in his true form. Glamour was highly effective in fooling the senses, but it couldn’t fool rocks.

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