Nail in Her Coffin (Devil's Witch Book 1)

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Chapter 32-Grave Horizons

TWO WEEKS LATER

“The garlic bread is my favorite, don’t mind if I do,” Will announces through a mouthful of lasagna.

He took me out tonight to a fancy Italian restaurant in town. It’s been two weeks since my trip down to Florida and ever since having been cleared, I feel like some weight should be lifted off my shoulders.

Only it hasn’t.

Because even the almighty supreme witch herself, couldn’t sense or see the demon mark tattooed onto my stomach-she didn’t think to look there of course. I’m surprised she didn’t find my magic tainted though, especially after I ended up accidentally exorcising the rats and turning Nick into my familiar, all with dark magic.

More specifically, black magic, as the coven would call it.

“Why aren’t you eating?” Will pokes at me and I grimace, picking up my fork and stabbing my spaghetti.

I plunge the noodles into my mouth, not in a very lady-like fashion. Marinara sauce splashes onto my white blouse when I stir up my noodles. With a napkin, I try to wipe away the mess, but the smudge still remains.

I don’t know if Will saw, so I lay my hair over the new gross-looking mark on my shirt.

Unlike last time we ate out, he hasn’t been talking much about the necromancer or coven issues. Instead, we’ve been chatting about our families. Well, really, he is doing more of the talking than me. There’s not much to say about how my family was and frankly, I’m still grieving.

Sometimes I think everyone around me is so caught up with their own affairs, they don’t have time to consider the pain others endure around them. Even those closest to them.

“What? Why don’t you want to talk about them?” Will probes and I shrug my shoulders. Ever since we sat down, he’s been checking his phone and somehow managing to keep the conversation going.

Meanwhile, he frantically appears to be texting this lady named Hailey. He isn’t bothering to hide his phone or conversation from me either, so it doesn’t really make me suspicious of anything.

Must be coven matters.

“No, it’s just they were pretty normal. Not a lot to talk about,” I admit, a half-truth.

He takes a sip of his soda and while he resumes texting again, I sit back in my chair wondering what we look like to other people.

Using my sight, I can tell most of the other customers are human, except a witch standing up by the counter eyeing the desserts behind a tall glass showcase.

Will has his hair gelled back in a fancy style. He wears a gray dress shirt and black tie and pants. It’s the most groomed I’ve ever seen him look. I chose to wear a black and orange plaid skirt and my white blouse, I brought a black sweater since it’s cold though. Maybe I should just put it on to hide the stain...

“What are you smiling about?” Will asks me suddenly.

I glance away from the dessert display and eye him with a coy look.

“Just thinking about the dessert menu,” I say while watching our waiter head over to us.

We ended up ordering chocolate cake to share and it was pretty sweet. He finally put his phone away too, but now that we’re finished eating he pulls it back out of his pocket with a frown.

“I have to go,” he tells me suddenly, looking distracted as he stows his silverware neatly onto his plate.

Luckily, we already paid because it looks like he has to go right this very moment.

“I’m going to start calling you Cinderella if you keep abandoning me like this,” I joke, we stand up and exit our booth.

“I’m not abandoning you, Valerie,” he replies sharply.

I falter at the door, not liking his tone one bit.

Doesn’t he know I was kidding? Honestly, lately, he really hasn’t been around much anyway. He’s always busy with meetings and if he’s not in meetings, he’s at work.

It’s not like I brought any of that up though. It would be so easy to, but my lips remain sealed as I watch him exit the restaurant ahead of me. He’s not even going to say goodbye?

He doesn’t even turn back to look at me. Whatever message he got, must be some emergency because this is the second time I’m watching him run off after our date.

I’m going to have to get a ride home or walk the whole way back. Seeing as Stella’s at Colin’s, it looks like it will have to be the latter.

I tug my sweater around my shoulders and walk out, begrudgingly leaving the warmth of the restaurant behind.

The air out here is bitter and cold, not much different from my mental state right now as I trudge my new heels through a puddle of mud.

“Ew!” I hiss, shaking my foot and trying to throw the gross, murky liquid off my shoe.

It doesn’t really do any good, it only makes me look silly to a group of kids who walk by me.

I pass a few shops and realize I’ll soon be passing the police station too. It really isn’t even night yet, I wonder if Nick is on rounds. The spot where he parks his car is empty.

Who am I to care anyway? I cursed the man, I mean, the vampire. I’m lucky he bothered saving me after what I did to him.

“Oh! I’m so sorry!” I squeak after cutting off a giant cop’s path. I remember seeing him in the station before, the mark on his neck and buzzed cut hair.

He was the other cop with Nick when he bit me.

“No worries, are you well?” he asks me with a slight german accent.

“I’m fine, just on a walk,” I laugh nervously.

“It’s a bit cold out for a walk. Won’t you come inside?” he tells me and his words make me feel even more uncomfortable.

Maybe it’s not so much his words, but the way he says them.

Like he’s not giving me a choice.

“Heinrich, I thought I told you to take care of the trash? The dumpster out back is over-flooding,” I hear Nick reprimand the vampire blocking my path.

“Tell your ginger friend I say hello,” Heinrich tells me and my face pales.

Could he, a vampire, be really interested in Stella?

He has to be kidding. She would kill him for just looking her way if he knew any better.

Heinrich uses his vampire powers to transport himself away, leaving me alone with the police chief. Nick steps away from the entrance and closer to me, but I step back near the street. I really just want to go home.

“Ms. Parway, I do hope you aren’t in any trouble,” Nick teases.

“Trouble just follows me around. Pretty much used to it by now, how about you? How was your day?” I ask, but it’s one of those things one does to be polite. Not to say I don’t care about his day, I’m just ready for this day to end.

So I can forget about it and move on.

“Routine, until now. Sorry if he frightened you, can I offer you a ride home?” he asks me sounding casual.

I take up his offer a little quicker than I’d like to admit.

I bound over to his car like a bunny rabbit heading into its burrow, the safety of its home. Protected from the big, bad world in its hidden solitude. Only, I’m not alone and I can’t say for certain if Nick’s police cruiser is any safer at all going by the way he drives...

Still, maybe the company isn’t so bad.

He pulls the car into drive and then turns on the radio station. I don’t know what kind of station this is. It sounds like some of the lyrics are in latin, but at the same time it sounds like a rock song of some sort. Funny, he played similar music before when he drove me back to the McCasters.

Nick hums along to the tune, surprisingly, he knows the song very well.

“Do you like this song?” I ask him quietly, wondering if he believes in the legend it sounds to be praising.

His face remains serious as he changes the music to a rap station.

“It’s prophetic I suppose, makes me wonder about us supernaturals and our future is all.”

He isn’t slowing down the car and we’re about to pass Stella’s place. However, he slams on the breaks and throws his arm out in front of me to keep me from slamming my head into the dashboard.

“Sorry about that. All these houses look the same,” he apologizes as I unbuckle my seatbelt.

They do look similar, the same builder designed them all. Most townhouses look similar around here.

“Thanks for driving me back,” I say feeling shy all of the sudden now that he turned the music off and the car too. It’s so silent outside...

“Of course,” he murmurs quietly.

The dim interior car lights above his head allow me to see how huge his pupils are under the shadows of his police hat. Feeling jittery, I reach for the car door handle. Then I open and shut the car door behind me gently.

There’s so much about him I don’t know, despite him being my familiar we are pretty much strangers. It’s best that way, everyone close around me always ends up getting sucked into my issues.

“What’s bothering you?” he asks me while he steps out of his police vehicle.

I thought he wouldn’t be able to see it, my magic getting out of control. It keeps doing that, buzzing around me like a swarm of bees whenever I get worried or upset. It didn’t do it so much before I died.

My own magic still is tightly connected to my feelings, something I’ve never managed to grow out of. Most witches detach their emotions from their magic altogether.

Trying to relax, I focus on the soft glow of a streetlamp down the sidewalk.

My hair still floats unnaturally around my shoulders though and the bottom portion of skirt sways against an invisible wind.

Any hope of me getting a grip any time soon are long gone.

“Bad date is all,” I say in a whisper, doubting he can hear me.

“Bad date?” He replies in a mocking voice. When I turn around to face him, I’m expecting to see a cocky expression.

However, his face remains impassive.

“Yeah, something like that,” I admit tiredly, wiping a frustrated tear from my face.

Nick walks around the car and over to the sidewalk, where I stand. When he stands close enough that we are face to face, I cross my arms.

“He’s afraid of you, you know,” he whispers gently like it’s a secret between him and I. My heart shivers against a cold breeze, a shallow breath escapes me when I see my magic wavering around him.

If I don’t go inside soon, my magic will be completely out of my control. I need to be alone...

“He shouldn’t be, that legend is a myth. Right?”

“How would I know?” he laughs dryly.

My magic makes a spark on the grass between us. Wide-eyed, I cover my mouth in shock and step away from him.

“Control it,” he states shortly.

My eyes dart to his in fear. Shaking my head in disagreement, I run up to the house in panic. I don’t care if I look stupid in front him, he’s going to get hurt if I stay out here any longer.

He must be crazy, still walking up the porch when I warned him of my lack of control. He knows I’m cursed, he knows the danger.

“Don’t come any closer, just leave me alone,” I argue weakly, watching him not listen.

He approaches me at a steady pace, with his head cocked to the side. The house creaks around me as my magic presses against it, pulsating with unrestrained force against the air around me. Yet, Nick seems unfazed.

I look down at the ground. Sure enough, a large hexagram is circled around my feet and soon Nick’s too as enters the hex sign. My stomach starts burning and I curl over in pain, clutching my gut.

Stupid curse!

“What’s wrong?” Nick asks me sounding quite calm, despite all my warnings.

“C-curse acting up...” I wheeze.

I manage to stand up straight, biting the inside of my cheek.

“Let me see it,” he says, and in the midst of my unbearable pain, I do.

The corner of his lip quirks up as if he’s amused by what appears to be a tattoo on my belly. He doesn’t know about the extent of black magic and the imprint it leaves behind on it’s willing, and unwilling, users.

I pull the bottom of my blouse back down and sigh in bliss when he grasps my wrists. My hair immediately falls back down to my shoulders as my magic dies down. Now that I think about it, this has happened before. At the firehouse, he touched me while my mark burned and the pain went away.

Something dances in his eyes, a look of wonder perhaps. At what, I have no idea. Maybe he’s just happy to have helped me get myself under control.

“Um...” I whisper, thinking of how he’s still holding onto my wrists so gently as if the tiniest bit of pressure would cause them to shatter.

When he lets go of my wrists, a foreign sensation overcomes me. I feel lightheaded and at ease, not really thinking much about the new red glow of the hexagram circling us.

Taking a deep breath, I savor the blissful feeling.

So much so, that I lose my sense of self-awareness and sway forward as if being beckoned by an unseen force. Bumping my face right against Nick’s bulletproof police vest, I step backward clumsily feeling drunk as a skunk.

“S-sorry my baaad.” I slur, shaking my head slowly to focus my vision. Which appears to be doubling as I’m seeing two of the police chief.

Something strong grips my waist and at the moment’s touch, my surroundings go black as a violent shiver trails down my back leaving me trembling. I close my eyes, only to open them and find my surroundings just as dark as they were before.

Something makes a clicking noise and I look to see my vision slowly returning to normal. We’re in my room and Nick has turned on my lamp on the nightstand. Oh, he must have transported us here. That’s funny, vampires usually only transport themselves. Taking someone else with them requires an awful lot of focus and energy.

“What just happened to me?” I ask nervously.

Nick shrugs his shoulders and sits down on my bed, looking deep in thought. “If there was a way to bring peace between our kinds, would you agree to some kind of condition to uphold it? Even if it meant sacrificing your own freedom?”

His hands are folded behind his back as he walks behind me, striding around me to face me again.

Maybe he’s just trying to distract me from my mysterious episode, so I don’t freak out. It’s not like he would know anything about magic anyway, he’s probably afraid of me.

“What if I could help you? What if I could get rid of your curse and do it all while restoring peace? Would you be willing to make a deal?”

“What kind of deal?” I ask quickly, wondering how he could do all of that.

“My request would be for you to become my voice to the coven because they have turned a blind eye to my kind. In return, I will offer you my hand, in death and life. You understand of course, we vampires are kin with creatures of the other realm. So the lines between life and death are much more blurry to us. So there is something more I need you to do.”

The coven is afraid of me, they wouldn’t listen or ever want to help the vampires even if the supreme of our state told them to. Which she never would to begin with.

A light rain hits against the window of my bedroom, the electric flickering in and out.

“What else?” I ask quietly.

“Your faith in me. You know you can’t trust William, even with this curse. You haven’t told him, have you?” He asks me in a light voice.

It’s not that I don’t trust Will, I just know he won’t like it. I’ve been meaning to tell him, only waiting for the best time.

“Is that all?” I ask Nick.

Those dark blue eyes find mine, but I’m not ready to make any deal. I want to stay out of the drama as long as I can.

“I just want to be normal, just human. I don’t want to be a witch. I want my family back, I want my old life. I’m tired of being called something I’m not,” I huff while plopping down on my bed.

I rest the side of my face on one hand and cross the other around my waist.

Nick bends down to me, like a parent does a child. He isn’t my parent though and I really hope he doesn’t think I’m a child.

He sounds a little bitter, “People have a habit of fearing what they can’t control."

I take that as him dropping his offered compromise, for the time being at least. The patter of the steady rain outside is quite pleasant and I find myself leaning against Nick’s shoulder. If I wasn’t so drowsy I’d refrain from making any contact with him whatsoever. I wasn’t so tired a moment ago, what is getting into me?

My mind lulls as a numbness overcomes me. My heart jumps, unsure of what’s going on.

“Nick?” I squeak out, looking next to me.

“The coven is trying to summon you and it isn’t the McCaster boy’s doing. They have turned against you. I tried to use my glamour to shield your mind and magic from them getting to you. It would seem, it’s not holding up too well,” he admits.

He was glamouring me all this time? No wonder I kept feeling loopy. How did he know they were trying to summon me? How does he know it's even Will?

I should be more concerned with the alarming fact that I’m probably about to be exorcised.

“Come with me?” I ask quickly, not wanting to face the witches alone.

“I do not have a good feeling about that, maybe William would be of better use,” he tells me.

Agreeing, I text Will.

“But I will follow,” Nick adds after a moment just as I’m forcibly warped out of my house.

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