Home > Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven (Harley Merlin #1)(5)

Harley Merlin and the Secret Coven (Harley Merlin #1)(5)
Author: Bella Forrest

Whatever this is, it’s not human.

“Oh, God, help me, please!” the man bellowed, desperately scraping at the asphalt beneath him as he was dragged backward.

I tried to catch his hands, his fingers bloodied by his attempts to get away, but I missed him by inches. And then a bloodcurdling growl made me freeze in place. The creature taunting the guy came into view, its big black eyes fixed on me.

As it noticed me, it stopped dragging the man, enough for him to look over his shoulder and cry with exasperation. “What the hell is going on? What’s happening to me?”

“You… You can’t see it?” I murmured, staring at the horrible beast standing before me.

“See what? There’s nothing! I don’t… How is… Why is this happening?”

It hit me then that the man couldn’t see the creature taunting him. I figured it was better that way. He was spared the visual horror.

I was standing face-to-face with some kind of… monster. It was huge, at least eight feet tall, with bulging, pitch-black eyes and two long, twisted horns that sprouted from either side of a crooked, asymmetrical head. Thick strings of drool clung to a pair of enormous fangs, and razor-sharp claws protruded from the ends of its lanky, ape-like limbs. Its skin was leathery, a dark and dirty shade of gray, with spikes erupting from behind its neck. A stringy tail trailed behind it, and, judging by the giant bat wings extending from its back, this thing could also fly.

It growled again, this time louder, as it continued glaring at me.

“What… are you?” I gasped, my own fear taking hold of my bones and joints, pushing my instincts into survival mode.

“You can see… it?” The man gawked at me, blood trickling from his temple.

“Yeah, but, trust me, you don’t want to know.”

It was a weirdly freakish hybrid, a cross between an ape, an overgrown lizard, and a bat, and it was looking way too intensely at me. Claws as big and as sharp as the monster’s took hold of my heart as it let go of the man and smacked him over the back of his head with its tail.

He lost consciousness, and the monster moved over his body, its shadow nearly swallowing him. Every nerve in my body screamed for me to run. But I couldn’t leave the man to die. If our situations were reversed, I knew I’d want someone looking out for me.

Given the disgusting amount of drool, it was dinnertime for the beast, and the dude was its main course.

“Hey! Leave him alone!” I shouted.

Whatever this creature was, it wasn’t interested in meaningful conversation. The monster sneered at me, then shifted its focus back to the guy, its jaws parting with anticipation as it lowered its head for a bite. My fight-or-flight instinct kicked itself into fight mode.

I thrust my arms out to help concentrate my telekinetic powers. First, I had to latch onto it. For some reason, I needed a clear view and angle to “lasso” the target. Fortunately, given how preoccupied the thing was with its meal, that wasn’t hard. I curled my fingers, focusing all my energy into its throat. The creature stilled, then choked as my hold on it tightened.

I was panting hard. I’d never performed such a precise grab before, and certainly not with a target this big. Nevertheless, I latched on and pulled the monster away, swinging my arms up as I tossed it over my head. It snarled as it was forced to part with its prey, sailing through the air.

My breath stopped as I saw where it was going to land.

“My car. Not my car!” I blurted out, then latched onto the creature once more, waving it away from my beloved Daisy.

It missed my Mustang by inches, and crashed into the fence. Wood splinters flew outward, and the monster groaned from the pain, then lifted its head to glare at me. Its anger flowed through me like lightning. I’d really pissed it off now.

The guy behind me came to and gasped, as all he could see were the creature’s claws crushing the asphalt beneath it with each step it took toward me. Think fast, think fast, think fast!

The monster lunged at me, baring its fangs, its black eyes wide and filled with rage. I tried to swat it away again, but it darted to the right. I launched another mental lasso at it, and it jerked to the left. It had already figured out my telekinesis.

“Crap,” I muttered, desperately trying to think of another way out of this mess.

“What?” the guy behind me croaked.

“Run,” I breathed, as the monster veered toward me again.

I put my arms out, hoping I could at least nudge it away, but then a flash of fire exploded between us. The blaze pushed me back a couple of feet. It didn’t hit me, but it certainly got the monster, forcing it into a rough landing on its back.

“What the hell is going on here?” the guy cried out.

“Why do you keep asking me? How the hell am I supposed to know?” I shot back, genuinely exasperated.

It was bad enough that I could see the thing, and still had no idea how to stop it. On top of that, I’d just nearly gotten myself blown up, somehow. All I wanted was a hot bath and a slice of yesterday’s pizza. Was that too much to ask?

“Step aside, miss.” A somewhat familiar voice caught me off guard.

Behind me, a young man emerged from the shadows of the residential building next to the casino’s parking lot. The deep green eyes, the dark curls resting on his forehead, the smooth, dark blue silk of his suit—it was the electric dude I’d seen earlier during the poker game.

The monster grunted, shaking its ginormous head, then looked at us and let out a spine-chilling roar. The electric dude frowned at the creature, pursing his lips as if he were dealing with a smaller-sized nuisance, like a rat, and not the living nightmare slowly getting back up on its hind legs.

“You… You can see it, too?” the guy on the ground asked him.

“Seriously, why are you still here?” I rolled my eyes at the wounded stranger, then pointed at the end of the street. “Just run!”

“No, stay there,” the electric dude replied, his voice low and eerily calm in spite of the raging monster shuddering in preparation for another attack. “You’re a witness.”

“Who are you? And what the hell is this… thing?” I managed, trying to wrap my head around the many unknowns that had gotten between me and my leftover-pizza dinner.

“I’m Wade. Wade Crowley,” the electric dude replied, and only then did I catch the hint of an Irish accent he carried. “And that’s a gargoyle.”

I stared at him, then at the monster, for a couple of seconds, noticing the soot on its horrific face. The fire that had hit it earlier had burned through its thick skin, but hadn’t managed to inflict significant damage. What the heck was it made of?

“A what now?” I blinked several times, my brain left behind for a moment.

“A gargoyle. Not sure what wasn’t clear about that statement.” Wade raised an eyebrow at me, as if I was the idiot. As if I was supposed to just know what that thing was. He’d made it sound as though gargoyles were as common as sewer rats.

“Well, pardon me for not knowing that gargoyles are real and not just creepy statues!” I shot back, slightly annoyed.

Wade opened his mouth to say something, but the gargoyle’s sudden movements made him put his hands up. The ten rings on his fingers lit up in an incandescent orange, and, to my shock, flames burst from his palms, hitting the monster right in the face. The creature yelped and covered its head with its wings, then growled and darted to the side, dissolving into the darkness behind a small building flanked by a Jeep, just outside the casino’s parking lot.

The way the light fell over it made it difficult to tell whether the gargoyle was still there.

“Did you kill it?” I asked, craning my neck to get a better look, as the guy behind me got up and backed away slowly.

“Nope,” Wade replied, scanning the building. I couldn’t stop staring at his rings, which were still glowing a peculiar shade of amber.

The gargoyle jumped out and landed on top of the Jeep, the hood bending inward under its weight, as it snarled at us. It moved too fast for Wade to hit it with fire again, dodging the flaming balls as it zigzagged across the street toward me and the guy on my right.

“Stay down!” I shouted at him, then tried another telekinetic move on the gargoyle.

I managed to smack its shoulder but didn’t stop it, as it took flight and shot right at me. Light flickered across its face, and I ducked as Wade’s flames hit it hard. Whatever ability Wade had, it was similar to mine, but he was in much better control of his powers than I could even dream of being with mine.

The gargoyle landed on its side, but didn’t give Wade a chance to hit it again, and bolted toward me and the guy once more. This creature was really persistent about getting its dinner.

I put my hands out and managed to latch onto its right wing. It gave me a panicked look, and I slapped the asphalt in a sudden crouch, as it was the only way for me to bring it down, given its considerable size. I felt like the puppet master in charge of a giant white shark, my muscles straining.

Wade watched as I struggled to keep the creature down. I noticed his frown, and scoffed.

“A little help here, Wade?”

“I figured since you ignored my request to step aside, and you’re continuing to disrupt my operation here, I might as well see what you can do,” he replied sarcastically. “Clearly, not much.”

As much as I hated it, he was right. The gargoyle tossed and turned until it escaped my hold. Dammit, I need more practice!

“Your operation?” I snapped. “For Pete’s sake, help me kill this thing!”

“No one’s killing anything tonight,” Wade replied, then brought his hands up again. The gargoyle dodged several fire pellets, then decided to deal with the source, directly.

In three wide jumps, it reached Wade and pounced at him.

“Don’t let him get away!” Wade shouted at me.

“Let who get away?” I replied, then glanced over my shoulder and saw the wounded guy trying to run off.

“If he gets out there, the gargoyle will go after him before I get a chance to catch it. Keep him here!” Wade grunted as he tackled the gargoyle with what looked like Judo moves.

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