Home > White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels #1)

White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels #1)
Author: David R. Slayton


1


   Adam Lee Binder

   Adam shivered at the taste of black magic: battery acid and rotten blackberries. It mixed with the odors of cheap beer and cigarettes. Even the lake’s sweet air, wafting through the bar’s open windows couldn’t scrub it from the back of Adam’s throat. He shivered and wished he’d worn something thicker under the flannel button up he’d dug out of his closet. Forcing his fists to unclench, Adam tried to relax as he waited his turn at the pool table. He sucked at looking casual.

   “I’m telling you—” said one of the two players. Keg-bellied and older, Bill took a long chug of cheap beer from a plastic cup. He wore a trucker cap emblazoned with a Confederate flag crossed by a pair of six-shooters. Greasy curls poked from beneath it. “There’s lizard men—what do they call them?”

   “Saurians,” Adam muttered, watching the second player, Tanner, take his shot.

   Tanner was closer to Adam’s age, around twenty-two. About six foot, a little taller than Adam, and sandy blond, he also wore a flannel with two buttons open at each end, showing off a clean wife-beater and hinting at a built chest. Tanner caught Adam looking, and his gaze narrowed.

   Shit. Adam took a heavy pull from his cup to hide his face. He did not want to be read—not here, not now. This wasn’t that kind of bar, and he hadn’t driven all the way to Ardmore to get his ass kicked.

   “. . . Under the airport there,” Bill continued.

   “There are lizard people living underneath the Denver airport?” Tanner asked. He stepped back from the table so Bill could take his shot. Tanner flicked his eyes over Adam and smiled a knowing little smile.

   Adam blinked. Well, huh.

   “Yeah, man.” Bill tugged on his cap and took his shot.

   Tanner watched the results, but Adam’s eyes were on Tanner’s cue, specifically the band of jet and ivory at the middle.

   Bone bound in iron—nasty work, even if Tanner didn’t seem the sort to trade in torturing magical creatures.

   “Damn,” Bill drawled as his shot missed the mark.

   Tanner held the cue across his shoulders and stretched, giving Adam a peek at his heavy belt buckle and a bit of his flat belly.

   “You just gonna watch?” he asked.

   Adam took another gulp of beer to cover the hitch in his throat and said, “I’ll play the winner.”

   “Aight.” Tanner positioned himself for another shot.

   The winner was never in doubt. Lean hands gripped the cue, and Adam felt its magic stir. Adam needed that cue. Well, he needed to find the warlock who’d made it. The thing itself was vile. It had to be destroyed.

   Adam cleared his throat.

   Casual. Casual.

   “Nice cue.”

   Tanner looked up from beneath the rim of his ball cap.

   “Thanks,” he said.

   “It’s a custom job?”

   “Don’t know,” Tanner said. “My dad bought it for me.”

   Tanner lined up the cue, took a shot, then another, finishing off Bill in a few quick moves. Adam felt little spikes of magic as the cue did its work. It was made the same as the other artifacts he’d found, a pair of dice, a flask: bone sealed with bog iron, trapping the creature’s pain to power the charm.

   Someone had maimed a magical creature so they could cheat at pool. Adam fought to keep a grimace off his face.

   If that someone was who Adam suspected, then he was so much worse than the man he barely remembered.

   Tanner slapped hands with Bill.

   “You’re up,” he said, smiling at Adam.

   “Cool,” he said, the hitch back in his voice. He reached for a cue.

   “You meet Bill here?” Tanner asked. “He likes conspiracy theories.”

   “I’ve never been to Denver,” Adam said.

   He didn’t mention that he’d seen stranger shit than eight-foot lizard men, most of it in the Carolinas. But the Saurians were supposedly extinct. The elves had wiped them out in the Christmas War of 1983.

   “It’s not a theory,” Bill said. “The government keeps ’em secret. Five hundred kids go missing every year, and they cover it up.”

   “That seems like a lot,” Adam mused.

   “Yeah, yeah,” Tanner said, holding out a palm. “Pay up.”

   Bill took two twenties out of his wallet. Tanner added them to a roll of bills and pushed it deep into his pocket.

   “Still want to play?” Tanner asked, looking hopeful.

   “Yeah,” Adam said.

   The game went too quickly. Adam had expected to lose, but at least he got a closer look at the charm.

   The cue held just enough magic to shift Tanner’s luck, building up a little charge as they played and altering his shots when it mattered most.

   It was a subtle piece of magic, hard to spot, but that was Adam’s specialty. It didn’t hurt that the cue’s magic was similar to his own.

   He didn’t cast much light, have much power, on the magical spectrum. Living under the radar, the things trying to hide there were obvious to him.

   It needled him that he couldn’t tell what kind of creature the bone had come from. Nothing immortal though, nothing too powerful. That would have brought down the Guardians. They were most concerned with their own.

   “You got me,” Adam said, reaching for his wallet. Forty dollars was steep, and money was tight. Between the gas and beer, this little trip to the state’s south end was adding up.

   “Keep it,” Tanner said. He glanced at the clock, then back at Adam. He looked hopeful. A tingle moved over Adam’s skin. “Another game?”

   Adam looked Tanner over. He hadn’t come here for pool. But maybe he could tease a little more about the cue from Tanner.

   “I’ll just embarrass myself,” Adam said. “Want to take a walk?”

   “Sure,” Tanner said. Smiling, he unscrewed the cue.

   Adam couldn’t help smiling back. He hadn’t expected this. He’d come for the cue, following a lead from a trucker who’d lost hard to Tanner a few weeks ago. Adam felt that little catch in his throat that popped up whenever he got interested in a guy.

   He couldn’t help smiling. He didn’t think Tanner had a gang ready to jump him in the parking lot, but he checked over his shoulder as they left the bar. Just in case.

   “Nice night,” Tanner said, nodding to the lake. Glossy, it caught the starlight. The sky hung broad and bright over the flat Oklahoma landscape.

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