Home > Witching Fire(5)

Witching Fire(5)
Author: Yasmine Galenorn

I bit my lip. “Oh no, sweetie. Raj did nothing to get Raven in trouble. Raven’s not sure why she has to go visit the Queen, but it has nothing to do with anything that Raj said or did. Raj isn’t to blame himself. Does Raj understand?”

Raj looked bewildered. “Raj understands, but he’s still worried about Raven.”

“Raven’s worried about Raven, too,” I said. “Raven’s not sure what to expect and she doesn’t like that feeling. But…she’s going to be brave about it, so Raj needs to be brave, too. Can Raj be brave for Raven?”

He nodded again. “Raj can do that. Will that help Raven?”

“That will help Raven a lot,” I said, giving him a kiss on the top of his head. “Raj is a good boy. Now if Raj would go out and help Kipa, Raven’s going to dress for the party.”

Raj obediently trundled off the bed and headed for the door, shutting it behind him. I watched him go. Raj had picked up my mood, that was for sure. I wasn’t certain what the Banra-Sheagh wanted with me, but it had to be something big.

Sighing, I picked out my party outfit—a black velvet circle skirt over a red petticoat, a red plaid corset that zipped up the front with black buckles and silver chains on it, and red and white striped tights. I added a silver fascinator, pinning it to my hair to keep it in place, and then a silver necklace that Kipa had bought for me. It had a ruby hanging from the chain that was as big as my thumbnail, and set into platinum.

I slid on a pair of platform knee-high boots, black with silver buckles, and a silver bracelet. Finally, I stood back and stared at myself in the mirror. I was ready for the party, but on the inside my concentration was shot. Regardless of whether the Queen’s summons was for good or ill, I hoped that the meeting would be quick, and that it would happen soon, because I really didn’t want to wait to find out my doom.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

By the time I was dressed, Kipa had let in the first guests—Ember and Herne. I wanted to tell them what my mother had told me, but I didn’t want to dampen the mood, so I decided to put it off until later. Enjoying the party would take focus. There wasn’t much I could do about the Banra-Sheagh for now, so I tried to push all thoughts of the future out of my mind.

“Where’s Angel?” I asked, looking around.

“She’s on the way. She decided to drive herself so she could stop and pick up a package that got rerouted to the Express Delivery station instead of to our house,” Ember said.

“How’s she doing?” I had been there when Angel’s boyfriend had been killed—in fact, I had witnessed the entire event, and so had Kipa. Neither one of us had been able to prevent a group of skeletal walkers from killing Rafé, and it wore heavy on our consciences, even though we had done our best to get him to medical treatment. I still felt guilty, though I knew guilt was futile, especially in a situation that had been as dire as the one we had been facing.

“She’s all right. In fact, I wonder if she’s overcompensating. She seems too…unaffected. I mean, look at all the changes she’s been through. Rafé’s death, finding out she’s a quarter magic-born, and drinking the potion of life. I guess she’s sorting things out the best she can,” Ember said. “She’ll get through it—she’s talking to Marilee a lot. I don’t think Angel ever believed she had much power. That she has a magical heritage to draw on opens up a whole new perspective.”

“Big changes do that, and so does trauma. And good gods, losing someone you love always brings trauma. I know all too much about that.” I paused as the doorbell rang. “Excuse me.” Grateful to whoever had showed up, I moved to answer the door. I didn’t want to talk about trauma tonight, given how on edge I was since my mother had told me about the Banra-Sheagh.

I opened the door to find Vixen and Apollo standing there. Both were Ante-Fae and both were also Exosan. Apollo—the Golden Boy—was Vixen’s lover, and their sub. He was enrolled in college in a business management program. Apollo was stunning, with a perfectly symmetrical face and delicate features. His golden hair mirrored sunlight on a spring morning, and he had a model’s body. He could have been a supermodel, outshining anyone in the business, but he chose to dance at the club and go to school instead.

“Hello, darling,” he said, air-kissing my cheek. Apollo and I had developed a good friendship over the past couple of years and he occasionally watched Raj when I was gone. I made sure never to give the wrong impression, though, because Vixen was very possessive of their boytoy, and even though they were a good friend, I wanted no misunderstandings.

Vixen had chosen an androgynous form for the evening. A Taipan snake shifter, they had a deadly bite. Vixen was gender-fluid to the point of where they could change their looks, depending on their mood. Tonight, they chose a tall, lanky form, both beautiful and yet masculine, blurring the lines between gender. Vixen was also wearing enough sequins to blind a person.

“Raven, it’s always a pleasure,” Vixen said, giving me an air kiss. They glanced around as they entered the house. “So sorry we’re unfashionably punctual tonight. Apollo has exams coming up that he must study for.” They paused for a moment, then said, “Tell me, is your goth boy coming tonight?”

I sighed. Vixen didn’t like Trinity, another of my friends. Actually, not many people liked him. “I invited him, yes. I expect you to be civil in my house, Vixen. Trinity’s not to blame for his parentage.”

Vixen let out a sigh, then said, “True that. He didn’t have a choice. Very well, I’ll be civil. Oh, I see Herne and Ember—I’ll go say my hellos to them. But Raven, my dear, I want to talk to you later about a matter involving a possible possession, so pencil me in, if you would, when you have some time this week.” They kissed me on the cheek and, picking up the golden leash that circled Apollo’s neck, they headed over to greet Herne and Ember.

Kipa slid up behind me, his hands on my waist. He leaned in. “You have some interesting friends.”

“I lead an interesting life,” I whispered back.

“That you do. Vixen reminds me of a couple of the gods. The Ante-Fae are quite a bunch.”

“We are, aren’t we?” I grinned up at him. “We live on the outside of the world, even when we’re smack in the middle of it.”

The doorbell rang again and I kissed Kipa’s cheek. “Be a good wolf and get that, would you? I’m going to set out the food.”

He slapped my ass. “You sure I’m not the Big Bad Wolf?”

“Oh,” I whispered back, “I love it when you’re the Big Bad Wolf.”

Laughing, he headed toward the door as I slipped into the kitchen, where my mother was organizing the food. I stared at her. She was wearing an apron over her leather jeans, and the juxtaposition of imagery threw me for a moment.

“You are the least domestic woman I know,” I said. “Yet…somehow the apron fits with the outfit.”

Phasmoria laughed. “Right. And I’m Tinkerbell. I didn’t want to drop anything on my pants, and I wasn’t about to let you do all the work.” She paused, then asked, “You do love your friends, don’t you?”

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