From the Author
From the Inside Flap
Kai waved her arms, trying to get her bestie's attention. She could have abandoned her post for five minutes and walked across the street, but communicating from one store picture window to another was so much more fun.
Bellamy had her elbows planted on the counter of Hallowed Bean, head in her hands, wings drooping sadly at her back. It was not the fairy who noticed Kai's wild gesturing but Maya and Kaley, the teen witches who just so happened to be sitting at a table right by the window.
Kai smiled, waved, and pointed to Bellamy. She could have texted, but she wasn't supposed to have her phone on at work.
Maya and Kaley waved back. Maya walked to the counter and said something to Bellamy, who perked up immediately and ran to the window.
Kai pointed to Verity, even though Bellamy couldn't see her, and then pantomimed frantic typing.
Bellamy also pantomimed typing and giggled. She made a sign for drinking.
Kai nodded, and then held up two fingers, placing an order for both Verity and herself. Unless some miracle occurred in the next couple of hours, there wouldn't be many more customers today, which meant that the time would pass by incredibly slowly. A coffee would certainly help with that. Especially one made by Bellamy.
Bellamy nodded back cheerfully, the colorful locks in her honey-blonde hair bobbing like a drunken rainbow. She gave Kai two thumbs up, did a little dance, and blew her a kiss.
And then a cloud went over the sun.
It was as if all the color drained from the world, and only a strange blue tint was left. Out of nowhere, the wind picked up. In the distance, Kai could hear sirens. A tornado in November? Totally not the right time of year. Besides, before a tornado the sky usually tinted green or yellow, not blue.
Without opening the door, Kai strained to look as far as she could down one end of the street, and then the other...and that's when she saw him. He tore out of the alleyway like a dark streak and sped down the middle of the boulevard. She heard a whistle now, and more sirens. This was bad news.
Keep running, she said inside her head. Keep running. Don't stop here. There is nothing for you here.
But he did stop. Dead in the middle of the street between Delaney's Delectables and Hallowed Bean. He put his hands on his knees to catch his breath. Chunks of long, black hair fell forward, covering his face.
Danger. She felt the word in every fiber of her being.
Kai looked to her friends at the window of Hallowed Bean. Maya was standing now; the chair where she'd been sitting had fallen over on its side. Kaley's eyes were wide, as if she wanted to scream, but Bellamy's hand was over her mouth.
The guy in the road stood up. Seemed to sniff the air.
Not them, Kai's inner voice went on. If you need a place to hide, it's not there.
He turned his head to stare right at Kai.
He was the most magnificent boy she'd ever seen. Man. Young man. Like a rock star. Or the son of a rock star. He was swathed in black: his hair, his jacket, his shirt, his jeans, his boots. As he came closer, Kai could tell that the boots were scuffed. The jeans and shirt were torn. The jacket was held together in places with safety pins. Closer. And closer.
He stalked to the door like a death wish.
Kai stepped back, but she could not look away from him. Would not. If he lost interest in her, he might go across the street and hurt her friends. She couldn't risk that.
His skin was deeply tan. His jaw was square and hard with a shadow of stubble. His nose was cut on the bridge. It might have been broken, and one eye looked like he'd been punched. His eyebrows were thick and shot with a streak of silver. All of this was framed by a mane of wavy, shoulder-length hair.
The bells tinkled as the door opened, but no one was laughing.
Kai stopped moving backward and stood her ground. His eyes were all she could see now. Gray and gold. Hunted. Haunted. The heel of his boot scraped against the polished hardwood floor as he stepped nearer. The air smelled like lightning.
Verity wasn't tapping on her keyboard anymore, but Kai didn't dare look away from his eyes. He could have had a knife or a gun...but she couldn't look away. She heard muffled voices outside the shop: people running in the street, calling out to each other. A lot of people.
There's no escape for you, buddy, Kai's inner voice said. Not in this town.
He lifted a hand to her cheek--his knuckles were bloody--but Kai remained as still as stone. One corner of his mouth turned up in what might have been a smile...but before she could decide, he was kissing her.
He was kissing her and his lips felt soft and kind. He was kissing her and the whole world melted away to nothing. He was kissing her and her heart stopped beating. He was kissing her and warmth spread through her body, all the way down to her toes. He was kissing her...and she was pretty sure she was kissing him back...and it was beautiful. She had never felt so beautiful in her whole entire life.
She heard Bellamy's voice ring out in the street, signaling the search party, and it pulled her back to reality. She pushed at the stranger's exceptionally broad chest--all of it muscle--and he broke away without a struggle.
"Proclaim no shame," he whispered in her ear, his deep voice a cross between a growl and a touch.
The bells tinkled again, madly this time, again and again as the sweet shop filled with people. Sheriff Merrow took one side of the stranger and Deputy Blythe took the other. Together they pulled him to the door. Someone put a protective arm around Kai. Verity.
"Sanctuary!" the prisoner cried. "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!"
"I'll give you sanctuary, kid," said the sheriff. "Down at the station."
The rest of the crowd left with the prisoner, but Deputy Cruz stayed behind. "Kai, are you all right?"
That was the question, wasn't it? Was she all right? It had all happened so fast, and yet it wouldn't stop replaying itself in her mind. She wasn't sure she wanted it to.