Today’s theme is Character in Danger so I thought I’d put up an excerpt from READING BETWEEN THE LINES:
READING BETWEEN THE LINES by LAUREN DANE
Copyright 2007, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Samhain Publishing
Conall was truly going to kill her if something happened to her while she was out and about.
Haley tried not to glance over her shoulder again but she felt it nonetheless. All day long she’d felt as if someone was following her. She knew it was silly and part of her wanted to kick Conall’s butt for putting the idea in her head to start with.
Conall wasn’t with her because he’d had to attend Aoife for something. A justice emergency—Haley had teased him. But when the queen called, you attended. And it wasn’t as if Haley had an armed escort before she met Conall. And okay, fine, she did admit she hadn’t had a crazed Fae bitch on some sort of mission to kill her on her back then either. But still. She couldn’t let all this paranoia rule her life. She’d be careful but not so careful she lived in fear every moment.
Anyway, it was Haley who trained as a warrior. Granted, Conall’s magic was a great deal stronger than hers, but she could handle herself in a scuffle and sift out of there if need be.
She’d had her meeting at the Foundation, had tea with her gran and they’d both sifted to have a light meal with her parents but it was getting late and Haley had used the scrying bowl to let Conall know she was going to grab some groceries for her parents at the corner bodega before heading home. Her gran would stay the week with her parents before heading back to Ireland and Haley hoped her mother had a secret stash of liquor somewhere to help her get through the days. The two women were like oil and water.
Haley laughed as she thought of how her gran had already reorganized the spices in the cabinet and of her mother’s look of outrage when she’d discovered it.
Her laugh strangled in her throat as she felt the tingle of magic and ducked as instinct drove her to, the bag holding the groceries flying to the pavement.
Good thing as a bolt of energy flew right where her head would have been. She tucked her legs and rolled up into a crouch. She took a risk, using her magic in public and her blade filled her right hand. Panic threatened to steal her ability to think straight and focus.
Her attacker got a quick, hard jab to her chin before she was able to rein in her fear and concentrate.
Feinting to the left, she reached out, slicing through the arm of her attacker, bringing a howl of pain and the metallic scent of spilled blood. He sprang back, kicking her solidly in the ribs, knocking the air from her and following with a baton to her back, right to her kidneys.
An explosion of pain shot through her side, narrowing her vision for long moments.
He hit her again and another time once more and she knew a second man waited just outside her reach. She wouldn’t make it if she didn’t fall back on the training she’d received from Aoife over the last months. If she didn’t handle this now, her family would be in jeopardy.
On his next pass, she’d gathered herself enough to dodge, catching his leg and wrenching it to push him off his feet. Within moments he was on her again but she swept her leg out and knocked him off his feet and gave him a solid boot to the temple and he stayed down.
She needed to sift but they were two blocks from her parents’ house. What if she left
and the attackers knew and went straight to them? Haley couldn’t take the chance, she didn’t want to risk them.
A violent punch to the face pushed the breath out of her as she stumbled back to get her balance.
The force of the punch had split her lip and eyebrow. Blood stung as it ran into her eye. A roll of her wrist and a lunge toward the second man brought the edge of her blade into contact with him. Triumph brought a new spurt of energy when she heard a hiss of pain.
A set of strong arms locked around her middle and her magic dampened. A human using cold iron. Fuck.
But she didn’t need magic to fight. She drove her head back and heard the crack of his nose as she saw stars.
“Don’t let her get away!”
Haley looked and saw the curvaceous pale blonde just ahead. Ninane the psycho, she guessed.
Haley twisted as the man holding her gurgled and she got enough leverage to poke him hard in the throat. When he dropped her, she rocked back and gave him a hard kick right to the balls and he crumpled with a wet-sounding wheeze.
Haley spun to face the other woman, pulling as much magic into herself as she could. “Let me guess, you’re Ninane. The bitch. Come on then, let’s do this so I can get a little payback for what you put my husband through.”
Brave words but Haley was pissed. So pissed she gave the asshole another kick in the junk and a follow up shot to the kidneys. He wouldn’t be getting up any time soon.
“You’ll pay for this, human whore. I promise you that.”
Haley jumped to the concrete as magic singed past her head. Okay, this was stupid and she was injured, exhausted and in way over her head. Time to fall back. She sifted but not to her parents’ house. To her old high school first and then back to her parents’. She didn’t want Ninane to be able to trace her
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