Marta channeled the coven’s power, fighting to keep her sister prone on the bed with their combined magic. Leah struggled to rise to join her incubus lover through the hell gate that had opened in her bedroom. Funneling the force of eleven witches was making Marta light-headed, but if Marta and the coven failed, Leah would be lost to them. With Leah—their thirteenth member—taken by darkness, the collective power of the coven would dissipate until they found a replacement. The hell gate would remain open for anything that wanted to climb out and wreak havoc.
Gritting her teeth, Marta snarled at the demon, “Leave this plane. You can’t have my sister.”
“I already do,” the incubus all but purred.
She could only look at him out of the corner of her eye, but what she could see was an impossibly beautiful man. The demon’s naked chest quivered as he tried to force himself through the gate. His aura pulsed sex, desire. He would make all of her sexual fantasies come through if she would just stop fighting him.
Marta couldn’t let that happen. Leah would willingly let the incubus fuck her to death and drink her soul. She would do it gladly, without thought or reason.
Blood dripped down Marta’s nose when she forked the power, so part of it went to closing the gate.
“Leah,” the incubus cried, his handsome features contorted in agony. Caught between the two worlds, the gate would slice him in two when it slammed shut. He wasn’t powerful enough—yet—to leave the hell world without Leah’s assistance. He reached out a taloned hand to her sister. “Come to me.”
Marta watched Leah fight the wave of her own coven’s magic, crawling across the bed to him. Leah moaned and Marta knew she was oblivious to everything but the raging desire the incubus was projecting.
“Nihaal,” Leah panted.
Marta closed her eyes. Finally, they caught a break. The demon made a mistake. He’d told Leah his name. It was undoubtedly not his true name, but names have power.
“Nihaal, I command you to leave this plane,” Marta intoned.
“No!” Leah shrieked, hearing the weight of the command in her voice.
The witches of her coven, each of them scattered across the state, added their voices to hers.
“Nihaal, I command you to leave this plane.” Marta spoke with the voice of the coven. If Leah could only add her voice, he would have been dispelled at the first demand. Thirteen witches working together this close to Halloween? Marta smirked. Nihaal would have been toast.
“Marta, please,” Leah sobbed. “You don’t understand. He’s not like the others. He loves me. I love him. I need him. Please don’t do this.”
And then Leah started to cast.
“Nihaal, I command you to leave this plane,” Marta spat out, pushing power until her legs collapsed under her. The rule of three, honed sharp by years of practice, hammered into the gate.
The hell gate closed, but Leah’s spell shoved Nihaal back before he was cut in two. She had put her essence into it.
The demon now had a part of her sister’s soul.
“I’m sorry,” Marta whispered, fighting for consciousness as backlash from channeling all that power roared into her. Sparks danced in front of her eyes. The emptiness echoed inside of her now that she no longer hosted the other witches.
“Why?” Leah wailed, falling off the bed to bang her hands on the floor where the gate had been.
Nihaal would come back. He would use Leah’s soul to find her, and when he did, he would bind her to him.
She is lost to us.
“No,” Marta spoke aloud, answering her coven’s lament. There was a way to break an incubus’s hold. She would need a vampire’s fang and a werewolf’s claw to make the protective amulet—and while that wasn’t something you found at Walmart, Marta knew how to get at least one of them.
Leah turned on her, eyes crazed with loss and pain. “I love him.”
“No, you don’t.” Marta gripped the carpet. Pain throbbed like a bongo beat in her temples. “You were tricked. Seduced. He only wants to destroy you.”
“Like you’re such a relationship expert?” Leah sneered.
Marta flinched and reminded herself that if Leah was in her right head, she wouldn’t be taking cheap shots. Marta had made some bad choices in lovers. They weren’t incubi stealing your soul, bad. More like the jerk slept around and gave her a disease that took the coven three months to eradicate, and Jerk #2 spent all her money on an online gambling site, bad. Then there was Cassius.
A ripple of hurt tickled her heart. It served her right for falling in love with a vampire.
“I know you’re stronger than this,” Marta said, swaying to her knees as her head fought for equilibrium.
“I’m tired of being alone.” Leah cradled her face in her hands and sobbed.
“Join the club.” Marta tried to keep the bitterness out of her voice.
“I need him. Please let me go to him.”
“It’s a spell, Leah. It’s not real.” Marta crawled over to her sister because she was still too shaky to stand.
“It feels real.” Leah sniffed. “You don’t know what it feels like. He said I was his world.”
“Demons lie.” Marta tried to hold her hand, but Leah snatched it away.
“He made me feel alive.” Leah was beautiful, stunning in a way that made everyone stop, stare, and smile. Right now, she looked wan and spent, her shimmering blonde hair, dull and matted.
“That’s because he was draining years off your life and masked it with euphoria. Leah, honey, you know all of this.” Marta sank against the footboard of the bed. She could sleep right here. “How did you even summon him?”
Leah reared back in affront. “How could a dud like you summon a level four demon, you mean?” she asked in a snotty rendition of Marta’s voice.
Marta cursed. “I didn’t mean it like that.” Leah’s magic had always been weak, and it haunted her all her life. Marta had seen her take ridiculous risks just to prove she was good enough. She just never thought Leah was stupid enough to try to tame an incubus.
“I went into Club Incandescent.” Leah stuck out her chin and glared at Marta, daring her to ask what Club Incandescent was.
Marta fought a blush. The only reason why she knew it was a BDSM club was because Cassius frequented it. He had tried to get her to join in the group activities. It was on the tip of her tongue to ask Leah if she had seen him there. But she already knew the answer to that.
Had he found someone else?
Tamping down on flickers of jealousy, Marta forced herself back to the situation at hand. She needed to get Leah out of this apartment and under coven wards on holy ground. Marta could obsess about Cassius and his sexual pursuits later. Maybe after she hired a werewolf to knock his fang out.
“Nihaal—” Leah continued on, but Marta hissed a warning.
“Say his name one more time and I will put a silence spell on you.” Marta wasn’t sure where she was going to draw power from to do that, but hopefully Leah wouldn’t know just how drained she was and call her bluff.
,” Leah emphasized, “picked me out of the crowd.”
“Who wouldn’t?” Marta asked. Leah could have anyone she wanted. But she had never been satisfied with one man. Marta couldn’t keep track of all her boyfriends. She was like their mother that way. Never settling down.
“He was different.” Leah sighed.
“Sex demon,” Marta said in a singsong. “Death by orgasm.”
“It was worth it. You don’t understand. I gladly gave him years off my life. He was doing me a favor.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Marta glared at her sister.
“All my friends are human. They’re going to die in eighty years at the most. I’m going to outlive them by more than a hundred years.” Leah’s lower lip trembled. “I don’t want to.”
“Leah.” Marta hugged her sister and rocked her while she sobbed. “The incubus won’t stop with a hundred years.”
“He said he would. I trust him. The excitement and the pleasure were completely worth the risk. You have to understand.” Leah gripped Marta’s shoulders, her watery eyes pleaded with her. “Let me go to him. I can’t live without him. He will keep me alive because he loves me. We had a connection. It was a commitment.”
“Sex demons can’t commit. They are not monogamous.”
“Who cares?” Leah sniffled. “Monogamy is overrated.”
“How would you know?” Marta asked, unable to resist the tart comment.
Leah pushed Marta away. “How did your precious monogamy work out for you and Cassius?”
“It didn’t,” Marta said, crossing her arms.
“How did it work for Mom?”
“It didn’t.” She snorted. The men parading in and out of their lives either ignored Marta and her sister, or tried to build a bond with them hoping that would give them an advantage to keeping Mom in their lives. Marta saw jealousy, heartbreak, and rage before she even hit puberty.
“I’m not the white-picket-fence and two-point-five-children type of person,” Leah said softly. “And neither are you.”
Marta snorted. “I want my man to be mine, and mine alone.”
“You’re confusing sex with love. You can have sex without loving someone. And if you share that with the one that you love it is a powerful bond of intimacy.” Leah’s voice took on a dreamy quality that made Marta very uncomfortable. They were getting into TMI territory.
“We’ve got to get you out of here. He can get in here too easily.”
“You’re not listening to me. I don’t want saving. I don’t need saving. And I’m not going anywhere.” Leah stood up. “I want him. He wants me. You don’t get a say in the matter.”
“Leah, he will kill you. And then he will turn on the coven.”
“The precious coven.” Leah sneered. “That’s all you care about. You’re so obsessed with becoming the youngest High Priestess you’ll kiss their collective ass. They hate me. I’m surprised they didn’t just let Ni—”
“Silence,” Marta shouted, launching the spell at her sister. The command marred slightly by the panic in her voice. But it was good enough to take effect.
Leah screamed silently in frustration and then mouthed, Fuck you.
Marta staggered to her feet, but was unprepared for Leah’s tackling her back down. Leah slammed her head to the floor and Marta’s vision wobbled. Slapping her across the face, Leah silently raged as she sat on top of Marta to keep her from getting away. Face stinging, Marta put her arms up to deflect the blows, wincing as Leah’s sharp nails raked her arms.
“Leah, this isn’t you.” Marta tried to reason with her, but it only seemed to torque her sister up even more. This wasn’t her sweet sister. This was a desperate act of an addict denied her fix.
Marta was so screwed. She didn’t want to hurt Leah, but she had to get the crazy bitch off of her. Marta’s magic was depleted and Leah was beating the shit out of her. Rolling to avoid more blows, Marta managed to toss Leah off. But it was a quick relief. Leah came back pulling on her hair and kicking her.
“Stop it,” Marta said, protecting her ribs the best she could. Leah was trying to rip her hair out by the roots as she dragged her over to where the hell gate had been. Marta hadn’t been prepared to fight both a demon and her sister. Reaching for the coven’s power, she only got a sympathetic murmur. They wouldn’t help her with this. They had to preserve their strength for protecting Leah. It was up to Marta to get her to the sanctuary.
The breath whooshed out of her as Leah dropped to her knees on Marta’s back. Leah went back to banging Marta’s head against the floor, but Marta was able to get her arms underneath her face to mitigate most of the damage. Gasping for breath, Marta had to think of something soon before her head popped off.
She had no internal power left. The panicked silence spell she cast drained her. The coven was conserving energy. Marta could pull power from the room’s electricity, but it could hurt Leah. But Leah wasn’t giving her much of a choice. In a few minutes, Marta was going to lose consciousness, and she was terrified what was going to be waiting for her when she woke up. Closing her eyes, Marta sought the hum of power from the lights. She drained the watts from the bulbs.
Leah stopped mid beating.
Marta redirected the power like a flash grenade. She saw the white light, even through her tightly shut lids. Leah’s body hit the floor next to her. Marta glanced over and saw Leah clawing at her eyes. Blinded and in pain, Leah thundered her feet against the floor.
The sixty-watt bulbs wouldn’t blind her sister for long. Marta had to hurry. Her head was a hundred pounds of throbbing agony, but she staggered to her feet toward Leah’s bedside table. She emptied out the drawers hoping to find something to restrain her sister with.
Marta had been expecting scarves or a belt. The handcuffs were a bonus. She had her sister cuffed and was dragging her out of the apartment when Leah’s vision came back. Balking, Leah tried attacking her again. But this time, Marta was ready for it and tugged her down to her knees. Clicking open the car door, Marta let go of Leah to fumble for a wand in the glove compartment.
Leah scrambled to her feet and was running to the apartment when the beam shot out of the wand, hitting her square in the back. She crumpled to the ground. Tucking the wand into the waistband of her jeans, Marta went over to her. She looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Leah lived in a residential area filled mostly with commuters. This time of day, everyone was at work. Still, she didn’t want to dawdle. Dragging her sister by her ankle, Marta pulled her to the trunk. With some grunting and shoving—Marta really needed to get back to the gym—she stuffed Leah in, and closed the hatch.
Reaching into her pocket for her Swiss army knife, Marta pricked her finger and sealed the trunk with a protective blood ward. It negated the silence and knock-out spell, however.
“I hate you.” Leah’s voice was muffled and groggy.
Marta felt the words like a slap. “I can live with that.” She forced the words to sound pain free. “I can’t live without my sister.”
It didn’t matter what it took. Marta was going to get that fang and claw if it was the last thing she did. When Nihaal returned he would not be facing a weakened coven but Leah restored to them. The thirteen witches would blast him into shards of basalt and he’d never torment and tempt another woman again.