Home > Boundary Broken (Boundary Magic #4)(3)

Boundary Broken (Boundary Magic #4)(3)
Author: Melissa F. Olson

Clearly trying to change the subject, Simon poked his sister with the toe of his shoe. “Yo, Princess. Are we playing cards or what?”

Lily raised her head to glare at him. She and Simon jokingly referred to their mother as the witch queen of Colorado, so now he was getting a lot of mileage out of goading the new heir apparent. “Simon Aleister Pellar,” Lily snapped, “we have discussed your use of that word.”

He grinned, unapologetic. “What are you gonna do, your majesty?” Simon asked her. “Smite me? Send me to my tower?”

“Smiting has potential,” Lily said, putting a finger to her chin as if in deep thought. “Especially if—”

Before she could finish, Quinn’s head jerked, and he stood up so fast I barely saw the movement. “Quiet,” he said sharply.

The whole room went still—we’d all trained to respond quickly during an attack. I strained to hear whatever Quinn had heard, but my human ears couldn’t pick it up. “Someone’s here,” he murmured, still listening intently.

Simon, Lily, and I all stood up, and I instantly reached for the shredder stake I kept attached to my forearm with a couple of fitness headbands. I touched my chest, reaching for Valerya’s bloodstone, but I had taken off the heavy crystal necklace for cleaning. Shit. I glanced at the Pellars, who had automatically moved away from the furniture and stood with their hands spread out, ready to cast.

“Vampire?” I asked Quinn. The local vampires had never come to my home before, but it seemed possible.

Quinn shook his head, his nostrils flaring, his eyes distant. His head turned back and forth. “Werewolves,” he muttered. “At the back door too.” Right on cue, a chorus of frantic barks rose from the back bedroom where I’d locked the dogs.

Werewolves didn’t really travel alone. My fingers clenched around the shredder, hard enough to make my knuckles ache. My twin sister had been murdered by a werewolf a few years earlier, and more to the point, werewolves were supposed to be banned from the state of Colorado. This could only be bad.

I looked down at the wooden stake in my hand, realizing it was next to useless. The shredders were spelled to create a tiny explosion when they were driven into flesh, but that wouldn’t slow a werewolf for very long. I had a small box of silver bullets in the gun safe, but that was in the back bedroom. The wolves could break down the door long before I made it there. And unlike vampires, a werewolf could walk right into my home.

“What do we do?” Lily whispered, looking at me. Her eyes were bright with fear, but her fingers were curled into conductors, sparks dancing between them. She and Simon had been working hard on their offensive magic.

“Quinn and Lily to the back door, Simon and I will take the front,” I began, moving toward the kitchen. I thought I had a silver-plated fish knife in the junk drawer. If I could get it quickly—

The doorbell rang.

In the thick tension, the familiar chiming sound seemed almost offensively normal. We all looked at each other, mystified. I mouthed a word to Quinn: Trap?

Before any of us could speak, I heard a vaguely familiar male voice call, “Lex? It’s Ryan Dunn. Can we talk?”

Quinn looked at me questioningly. I nodded, relaxing a little. Dunn was the alpha werewolf of the Wyoming pack that had helped me kill the sandworm three years earlier. I didn’t exactly trust him, especially since he wasn’t supposed to be in Colorado, but I had no reason to think he wanted to hurt any of us.

I went toward the front door, entering the hallway but staying about ten feet away. “What are you doing here?” I yelled. “How many of you are there?”

“Just me and Mary,” he called back. Then he added, with a little impatience, “I’m calling in my marker.”

Chapter 3

Thirteen years before I even learned about the existence of magic, a war for power was waged in Colorado.

Back then, a psychotic werewolf named Trask decided to unite all the Colorado packs and take control of the Old World in the state. That in itself could have worked out okay—werewolf packs had leadership roles in other places. But Trask hadn’t cared about the most fundamental rule of the supernatural world: keep everything away from the humans.

After a number of people were killed, the peace-loving witch clans had tried to intervene, but that led to even more people getting caught in the cross fire—including Simon and Lily’s father.

Hazel Pellar, the clan leader then and now, could have retreated into her grief and let Trask go unchecked. Instead, she had come up with a radical plan to stop him for good: she reached out to a very powerful vampire, Maven, and negotiated a deal. Maven would stop Trask and keep the werewolves out of Colorado, and in return the witches would be in her service for twenty years.

It was an uneasy peace, which had been tested several times since, including when Simon and Lily’s older sister, Morgan, had caused magic to go crazy in the Boulder area, raising an evil snake monster. The Cheyenne werewolves had fought the sandworm with us, which was how I’d ended up owing the alpha a favor.

By Old World rules, Morgan Pellar should probably have been killed or imprisoned for her actions, but Maven had agreed on banishment—in exchange for letting the Cheyenne pack back into the state on the occasional weekend trip, mostly to run around the national parks during a full moon.

But the next full moon was more than a week away, and they’d certainly never come to my house. The dogs were barking loudly now, so I had to yell to be heard. “For what?”

“Two of the pack members have gone missing.” This time, the voice came from behind us. I whirled around, shredder in hand, to see a thin, haughty woman leaning against the entrance to the back hall. The dogs had been too loud for us to hear her come in.

Quinn hissed at the sudden intrusion, an unnatural, vampire sound, and both Pellars took a step forward. I held out my arm to stop all three of them. “Mary,” I said with exasperation. “Are you trying to get zapped?”

The female werewolf shrugged, looking unconcerned. “You were taking too long to let us in.”

I’d only ever seen Mary in tiny dresses and sky-high heels, but tonight she was wearing loose, cheap cutoff sweatpants and an oversized red T-shirt with bleach stains on it. The kind of clothes you didn’t care about ruining. That actually scared me.

I went to the front door and jerked it open. “Why didn’t you just call?” I demanded, glaring at Dunn, who stood there with his hands in his pockets. He was a barrel-shaped man who looked to be in his late forties or early fifties, though werewolves aged slower than humans. “I would have come up to Cheyenne.”

“Our packmates vanished here in Colorado,” he said. “I want your help.”

I motioned for him to come inside—the cold air was already making goose bumps appear on my bare arms. He walked past me, looking around with alert, wary eyes. I closed the door, but didn’t ask him to remove his thick-soled work boots despite the snow. The idea of the alpha werewolf in my house in his sock feet was just too weird. “Let’s sit down,” I said, tired of trying to think through the politics.

I asked Quinn to get some folding chairs, and a couple of minutes later, two werewolves, a vampire, and three witches were all sitting in a semicircle in the living room, like the world’s most bizarre AA meeting.

I focused on Dunn. “What happened?” I asked.

A smile flickered on his face. “That’s what I like about you. No pleasantries.” He cleared his throat, glancing at each of us in turn. “You know we’ve been given occasional permission to visit Colorado, right?”

I nodded. “The weekend pass. I’m aware.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Lily squirm in her folding chair. The Pellar family were the only witches who knew about the weekend pass. I didn’t think they’d even discussed the arrangement with the rest of their witch clan. It was an uncomfortable reminder of Morgan’s betrayal. “But Maven never gives us details about your trips,” I added. “She says it’s safer for everyone.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Quinn make the tiniest flinch. Nobody else caught it, because nobody else had been dating him for nearly three years. I filed the thought away for later.

“And she’s right,” Dunn replied. “Anyway, Maven and I were discussing a possible trip again this month. The pack has been itching to explore the Dunes.”

The Pellars and I nodded automatically, but Quinn, who was not a Colorado native, looked confused. “The Great Sand Dunes National Park,” I told him. “Four hours south of here.”

“Oh, right,” he said with a little shrug. “Heard of it, but I’ve never been.” Vampires were predators; they mainly stayed in populated areas to be close to their food source. A hundred thousand acres of wildlife wasn’t exactly a huge draw.

“It’s stunning,” Dunn said. It seemed like an odd word choice for a rough-looking guy in jeans and a flannel shirt, but his eyes practically glowed with enthusiasm. “And this is the off-season. With Maven’s permission, I sent down my beta, Matt Ventimiglia, and his wife this morning to get the lay of the land and make sure there was enough space for us to run around unnoticed.”

“Beta” meant the second-in-command of the pack, I knew. “What happened?” I asked.

“I talked to Matt at three o’clock this afternoon and everything was fine,” Dunn answered. “They had stopped at the visitor’s center during regular hours, gotten maps and things, and checked into a hotel in Alamosa. They were going back out to the Dunes tonight after dark, with Matt as a wolf and Cammie as his handler. That was the last I heard from them.”

Quinn and I exchanged a wary glance. It seemed risky to have a werewolf running around a public park, even at night, but then, I didn’t know much about werewolves. And given how worried Dunn looked, this was probably not the moment to ask about werewolf control. “What time were they supposed to call you?” I asked instead.

“Matt said no later than ten,” he replied. “It starts to get dark around four thirty, so Matt and Cammie were going out there at five. I expected a call by nine. We’ve been calling every half hour or so since ten. When we couldn’t reach either of them on the phone at midnight, Mary and I drove down here.”

I glanced at the other werewolf. Mary had been silent throughout Dunn’s explanation, and now she just sat and regarded me with those cool eyes. I couldn’t read her.

“Why me?” I asked, looking back at Dunn. “Why not go right to Maven?”

His gaze shifted to Quinn. “What would Maven say if I called her with this?” he said, his tone challenging.

Quinn met his eyes, not backing down, but not pushing him either. Werewolf or not, Dunn was obviously worried about his people. “She would tell you to stay in Cheyenne, and send Lex and me down to the Dunes.”

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