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Fury of a Phoenix (Nix #1)
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“I knew the sins of my past would call to collect what was left of my soul. If I’d known the price I’d pay, I would’ve sacrificed more to stay hidden from the magic.”
In the middle of Wyoming–away from the abnormals of the world–I thought I was free and clear. I started a new life. Found a love I’d never known in a husband, and a son who was my everything.
And in a blinding instant, that life was stolen from me.
The rage of a grieving mother is an ugly beast. More so when she has the skills and killer instinct to back up the wrath and the knowledge that an accident was anything but.
Once more, I will pick up my guns. This time to hunt those who took my husband’s and son’s lives.
Let them see the assassin, trained to kill abnormals, stalk the shadows again.
Let them see the Phoenix rise from the fragments of a broken life as she burns with a fury that cannot be contained.
Let the killing games begin.
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The world slid sideways as the truck lost traction on the snowy hill, and there was nothing I could do to stop the momentum, not even if I’d been in the driver’s seat. Bear—my sweet boy— reached across and grabbed my hand with his much smaller one, his fear a tangible beast between us, his brown eyes wide. “Mom?”
“Dad’s a good driver.” I looked him in the eyes and gave him a smile. “It’ll be okay.”
Something shuddered underneath us as the truck careened faster and faster down the long hill. I clutched his hand tightly.
It would be okay.
A flare of magic rippled around the truck, dark green and vibrating with a life of its own.
What fresh hell was this?
The question for me was not if I’d die of intense anxiety, but exactly how long it would take for the burning heat in my face to actually cause the rest of my body to spontaneously combust. Sweat dripped down my sides and clung to the inside of my long-sleeved sweater, and that sweat was probably the only thing keeping me from truly overheating. My hands itched to touch the grip of a gun to help me find my center.
Justin put his hand on my lower back as he guided me through the throng of people. “You’re doing great, sweetheart. Just keep moving. These are our friends and neighbors. These are our kind of people, you know that.”
I nodded, knowing there was more to the words. These were normals. Not a single supernatural in the bunch, which should have soothed me. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. There was one, but she hid it well.
Still, the crush of people on me was hard to take. Not because I didn’t know them, but because I knew the truth of human nature.
Normals or otherwise, human nature was an ugly beast.
Of all the people in my life—and not that there were many anymore—I trusted three. Justin. Bear. Zee. If nothing else, my past had taught me that trust was too easily given, and even easier to cast aside when the right deal came along.
A woman drew close with enough hairspray holding up her bouffant that the intense scent of Aqua Net curled through the crowd and up my nose long before I could see her. Princess Bouffant called out to us.
“Oh my gee-osh, you got her to cah-m! How lovely!” She drawled out her words in a pattern that had me fighting to keep the smile on my face. She was an abnormal, though of what flavor I wasn’t sure, and didn’t really care. The differences in her were subtle. She tried to cover up her scent with the Aqua Net, and the way her eyes darted with heavy amounts of makeup. Every abnormal was a little different in their tells, but they all had a smell that was part animal, part magic.
But that was not my business anymore.
I bit back the snotty retort that hovered on my lips, then caught Justin’s wink out the corner of my eye. The grin on the side of his mouth was all it took for me to follow his train of thought.
“Perv,” I whispered and gave him an elbow.
“Get your mind out of the gutter, Bea.” He pinched my ass, and someone called to him.
“Justin, we need to talk.” One of our neighbors waved him over. He gave me a pair of raised eyebrows in a silent request to leave me, and I rolled my eyes. “Go. I can deal with her. Make sure he isn’t wanting to use our pastures again.”
Here she came, the only abnormal in the bunch.
Goddamn it. I steeled my spine. I could do this. I’d handled tense, uncomfortable situations before. Hell, I’d dealt with shit that was beyond intense since I was a kid. But Zee and my other tutors had never trained me to deal with someone like Mary-Ellen Mayberry and her insatiable need to try and squeeze every, last drop of my past out of me.
Her hair was backcombed so she gained at least an extra three inches in height to her barely five-foot-five frame, which put her on par with me. She waved both hands, cheery as always. “I am so glad you came tonight, Bea. This time of year, it’s good to be with our loved ones.”
I kept the smile pasted on my face while I struggled not to bolt. Crowds were a bad place to be, a bad place to find yourself if you were looking out for someone else. Like a child who could disappear in an instant. Like my boy.
The grin held on my lips with great effort and I spoke through it carefully. “I’m so sorry, Mary-Ellen, but have you seen my son?”
She splayed her hands against her chest. “That precious boy of yours is upstairs in the rumpus room playing video games with the other kids. Don’t worry,” she took a step toward me and pressed her hand to my forearm like tiny sharp talons, “we don’t allow any violent or inappropriate games in our home. Movies, either, so you have nothing to worry about.”