Forged in Darkfire (Amber Lee Mysteries Book 5)

By: Katerina Martinez

CHAPTER 1





The wind had a cold bite tonight. Where Damien Colt had been standing, with one foot in the sand and another on a rock, staring out over the San Francisco bay, there was no defense against the chill and the smell of salt and marine life. The water was dark and choppy, and a mist had rolled in so thick it had all but swallowed the entirety of the Golden Gate Bridge and its bright orange lights.

Until about a moment ago Damien had been watching, and waiting. Waiting for his Coven to arrive and watching the mist devour the bridge like some impossibly huge beast eating another. Until about a moment ago the sandy, rocky walkway had been quiet and empty. Still, save for the lapping of the water on the rocks. But he had thrown his own voice into the silence and broken the magic of the place when Lily called him up.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “But I have to stay here. My boss is making me close up; says he has a show to get to or something.”

“And there’s nothing you can do?” Damien asked.

“What can I do? I either close up or I get fired. What do you think I’m gonna do?”

“And what about Natalie?”

“What about her?”

“I’m supposed to meet her… on my own?”

“I don’t see what the problem is.”

Damien looked around for signs of anyone approaching and lowered his voice. “What am I supposed to do with her?” he asked.

“Talk to her? Get to know her? I don’t understand what your issue is with her. She’s sweet, and she’s a part of this Coven too.”

“Yeah, but—”

“But nothing, Damien. Suck it up and hang out with her. You need social interaction with someone besides me. As soon as I’m out of here I’ll give you a call and if you’re still together I’ll come down and get you.”

He heard footsteps and spun around. There, coming up along the walkway, was a woman. She had her hands buried deep in the pockets of a long coat she was wearing and the wind was tugging at her hair and the purple woolen scarf wrapped warmly around her neck.

It’s her, he thought.

“She’s here,” he said down the phone, “I’ve gotta go.”

“Da—” is as far as his sister got before he hung up.

He put the phone into his jacket pocket, tucking his hand in there too for warmth, and stepped off the rock to intercept the incoming Witch. The rumble of distant thunder caught his attention and he turned his eyes to the clouds as he walked, checking for signs of potential rain, but he was no closer to figuring out whether bringing an umbrella would have been prudent by the time Natalie came to within talking distance.

“Hey,” she said. Her voice carried and seemed to skip along the water, across the bay. He wondered if someone on the other side of the bridge had just heard her soft voice come sailing over the misty ocean.

“Hey,” he echoed. They shook hands. Hers was warm while his was cold.

“Where is everyone?” Natalie asked.

“Sorry,” he said, “Lily just called; she’s stuck at work so she won’t be coming down here. Neither will the others.”

“So it’s just you and me?”

“Yeah, seems like it.”

“That’s okay,” she said, smiling. There wasn’t a lot of light on the rocky beach by the San Francisco trail save for a faint yellow glow from the nearby car park; light that seemed to have managed to escape the fog’s grasp. It was only barely enough light for him to make out the smile on her face, but Damien didn’t need the light to know she wasn’t entirely disappointed by the fact that no one else would be able to show up.

For a few weeks he had known about the little crush she had on him. The first time he had felt it was during a get-together Lily had thrown for the Coven. It wasn’t a big party or anything, just a quiet shin-dig at their place; a couple of Witches drinking a few beers and watching a few movies. He had met Natalie a few times before—during her initiation a few weeks prior to then—but they had never really spoken much until that night.

When a girl falls asleep on your shoulder during a movie, he had thought, it must be because she likes you.

And the idea of it—of her liking him—terrified him, only he couldn’t tell her why.

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