Wicked Deal (Shadow Guild : The Rebel #2) by Linsey Hall

1





Carrow

Guild City



“I swear it won’t bite,” said Eve, my Fae friend.

I arched an eyebrow. “It’s a dried demon head with giant fangs. It really looks like it might bite.”

She laughed. “You owe me. I know it’s gross, but I need to know where it came from.”

I scowled and looked at the severed, dried head sitting on the counter in her cluttered shop. Hundreds of charms and potion bottles lined the shelves, but I only had eyes for the head. Its skin was wrinkled, and its horns protruded upward.

“Thank God the eyes have rotted out,” I muttered. “I couldn’t handle it if it looked at me.”

Eve laughed again, and the raven who sat behind her hopped along the shelf, as if interested. Eve still claimed she couldn’t see the raven, and I didn’t push.

“Seriously, the world of magic is crazy,” I said. “Having something like this is insane.”

“Hey, it’s rare. Normally, those heads disintegrate upon the death of the demon. I need to know why this one didn’t.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Eve sold magic potions and spells that she made using her Fae power, and I did owe her for the potions she’d given me last week. Anyway, I was trying to get my business up and running, and she was my first client. If I planned to sell my ability to magically read people and objects, then I needed to start now.

“You’ve got this, mate,” Mac said, a big grin on her face.

I shot my other friend a grateful smile. Mac lived in the flat below me and could always be counted on for support. I drew in a deep breath, hovering my hand over the head. “One, two, three.”

On three, I touched the head, doing my best to control my magic and see something specific about the disgusting thing. The power surged through me, seemingly stronger than ever.

That had to be impossible though, right?

I was new to this world, but I was pretty sure magic didn’t grow stronger.

I focused on the vision.

There was a blast of light in my mind, followed by an eerie, high-pitched laugh that turned into a scream. It seared through my skull, making me wince.

I stumbled backward, shaking my hand.

“Well?” Eve asked.

“A laugh, a light.” I scowled. “That was pathetic. I’m trying again.”

I could feel their eyes on me as I approached the head once more. This kind of magic—and danger—wasn’t unusual. Unlike me, they’d been born into the magical world and had known about it their entire lives. I was a newcomer, just trying to make my way.

The skin of the dried head was papery against my fingertips as I pressed them to the skull.

“Come on,” I muttered. “See something useful.”

The light flashed again, and the laughter howled, shrieking through my mind. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to see through the bright light.

Please work.

I needed control of my power, damn it.

I saw nothing, but once again, the laughter turned into a scream.

Eve.

The scream was saying her name.

The magic faded from the air.

Shocked, I looked up. “It said your name. Screamed your name.”

Eve paled slightly, her eyes dark. She drew an unsteady breath. “Thanks, that’s helpful.”

“That’s it? This scary demon head screams your name, and that’s it?”

She shrugged. “You need to get control of your magic, though. Your signature is off the charts.”

I glared at her. “You’re changing the subject.”

“Well, we need to talk about it. But we don’t need to talk about my deal. Not now.”

“Fine.” I knew when to stop poking.

“Eve’s right.” Mac waved a hand in front of her face. “It’s like I’m lying in a freaking lavender field.”

I winced. “I know.”

All supernaturals had magical signatures—as many as five, each corresponding with one of the five senses. Powerful supernaturals had all of them, and, apparently, I was one of those. According to my friends, my magic smelled like lavender and tasted like oranges. Sounded like roaring wind and looked like a silver glow.

“Seriously, mate.” Mac said. “Everyone in Guild City has to keep their signatures on lockdown or the Council of Guilds gets a bee in their bonnet.”

“You do not want their bonnets disturbed.” Eve met my gaze. “And your magic is…”