Shadow Watcher (Darkness #6)

Shadow Watcher (Darkness #6)
K.F. Breene

Chapter One

“So we think these people are supposed to notice us, right?” Charles kicked a stone that clattered into the street. He wasn’t hiding his boredom well.

We waited outside a New Age shop in the middle of town. The window display of crystals, Tarot cards, and other mystical treasures was designed to lure in humans that thought they had magic of some sort--or those that just wanted to dabble in magic. Most of the patrons were women, but the occasional man with long straggly hair and smelling of patchouli oil wandered through.

“Notice you. I think this gig has made me judgmental,” I noted, leaning against the wall.

We waited in a shadowed corner as the sun sank low in the sky. Long, jagged shadows reached across the sidewalk, as though searching for something or someone. Streetlights had started to blink on even though they weren’t needed yet. The bite of fall had me shivering through my light sweatshirt and huddling into Charles.

I watched the people meander by, enjoying the pleasant evening in twos and threes. A few glanced my way, noticing me by the wall like a creeper. A guy or two even gave me a smile. They didn’t notice Charles, even though we were touching. Some of these people passed within a few feet of him and even though he was the largest man on the street they still didn’t see him. It was as if he was wearing an invisibility blanket. People’s gazes slid right past as they continued on their way.

I gave a loud sigh, which drew the attention of an aging man with a walker. I slouched harder against the wall. This had become my gig lately. With things so quiet in our neck of the woods since we’d taken down Andris, I set about my other duty of continuing Fate’s plan and finding humans with magic. I was blending the two sides of magic together to save the magical race.

Or so Cato said every time he called. Which was often.

I had found three people so far, all of them old women. They’d had some control over their magic and no idea of what they might be capable of. While they didn’t have a lot of power, I had a little hope that they could at least join the fold and find some of the hidden traits we needed. Delilah wasn’t blasting orange like Birdie, but there was no one better at working intricate spells. I was improving in leaps and bounds by practicing with her, and now I knew how to link without killing people—learning wasn’t nearly the dangerous activity it used to be.

The old women hadn’t worked out. They had spent no more than fifteen minutes in the Mansion before turning around and marching right back out. Apparently orgies weren’t their thing.

“I don’t understand why Jonas and I can’t switch off on this detail. It’s boring, Sasha,” Charles whined. “I’m all edgy. I want to stab something. Or at least punch someone in the face. It’s never been this boring around you before. Let’s go to the ghetto and parade you around topless so I have an excuse to kill someone who hits on you.”

“Super idea, Charles,” I said, “Let’s go do that right now.”

“Really?” Charles eyes sparkled as he looked down at me.

“No, you idiot. And you’d want me topless just so you could see my wares. You’re not very sneaky.”

“Win-win. Your breasts and violence.” Charles slapped the wall. The sound reverberated into the ambling crowd. I made eye contact with the few people who were trying to find the origin of the noise and almost didn’t notice a man look directly at Charles.

A thrill went through my body. We got one!

I zeroed in on the guy. Standing over six feet and stacked with muscle, the man was in his mid-twenties and owned his space. He created a sphere of emptiness around him despite the busy sidewalk. Tattoos wound around his arms and reached out of his collar to his neck. A wicked scar curved at the base of his jaw but didn’t diminish the handsomeness in his face. What it did was amplify the scary quality of a violent nature. He walked with a swagger that revealed a physical confidence born of fighting. Muscular arms hung from broad shoulders and swung freely at his sides, ready to grapple at a moment’s notice. His eyes seemed haunted, but there had been no fear when he had looked at Charles. There was no sign of a challenge, but certainly not submissive.

The thrill turned into the warning tingle. Why me?

“We got one,” I groaned.

“Which one?” Charles asked, staring at a portly woman who was walking out of the shop.

“No, not the woman who looks like she wouldn’t harm a fly. That would be a good thing. Nope. The huge, scary-looking guy who Jonas will probably want to kill on sight.”

“I changed my mind. I love this detail.” Charles had followed my gaze and was now looking at the man with glee. Which meant my assessment was right on.

Just great.

“Jesus. That guy’s big for a human.” Charles rubbed his hands together with a grin. “Ready for a tumble, too. I’m his huckleberry.”

I rolled my eyes. “When you quote a movie, you don’t have to try and sound like the character.”

“Sounds better that way.”

It didn’t. But I didn’t say that. The man was getting away.

I pushed myself away from the wall and slipped into the stream of passers-by with Charles at my side. We walked quickly until we were a few paces behind the guy, then slowed to match his leisurely pace. He looked straight ahead for the most part, but by the tightening of his shoulders and the flexing of his arms, I was sure that he knew there was something dangerous behind him. He had great instincts.

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