Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)
by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .
It was only a short gap between the rooftops, maybe three feet, and I easily cleared it, my feet churning through the air before my sneakers scraped against solid stone again.
I staggered forward a few steps, my coat flapping around my legs. While I worked to regain my previous speed, I glanced over my shoulder. Even though it was after ten at night, and rain clouds cloaked the sky, I could see the three guards chasing me as clearly as if it were noon, thanks to my Talent for sight. They looked like normal humans, and I couldn’t tell if they were boring old mortals or more interesting magicks like me.
The guards didn’t seem to have any Talents, any obvious magic. Otherwise, lightning bolts, ice shards, or even balls of fire would have been streaking through the air after me. Part of me sort of wished that the guards were throwing magic at me. It would have made my escape easier.
Because I had another, rather unusual Talent of my own.
But it wasn’t meant to be, and the men jumped onto the roof behind me as I leaped onto the next one over—the last on this block.
I raced over to the far side of the roof. This brownstone butted up against a street, which meant that the next building over was several hundred feet away, much too far to me to jump. And since this was a private home, there wasn’t even a fire escape to climb down, just a rickety metal drainpipe loosely bolted onto the side of the brownstone.
But I already knew that from when I’d cased the neighborhood earlier this evening. In fact, it was the reason I’d run toward this building.
So I dipped my hands into my pockets, sorting through the items there—the necklace box, the other loot I’d swiped, my phone, several quarters, half of a dark chocolate candy bar that I’d been eating earlier while I was watching the accountant’s house. Finally, my fingers closed over two pieces of soft, supple metal, and I yanked out a pair of dull, silver, mesh gloves, which I pulled onto my hands.
The guards easily made the leap. Well, really, for them, it was more like a hop, given how long their legs were. I turned to face them. The guards grinned and slowed down when they realized that I’d run out of rooftops.
One of the guards stepped forward. His green eyes glittered like a tree troll’s in the semidarkness, and his black hair was cropped so close to his head that it looked like he was wearing a shadow for a skull cap.
“Give us the necklace, and we’ll let you live,” he growled. “Otherwise …”
He swung his sword in a vicious arc, right at my shoulder level.
“Off with my head?” I murmured. “How cliché.”
My hand dropped to my waist and the sword that was belted there. I considered sliding the weapon free of its black leather scabbard, raising it into an attack position, and charging forward, but I decided not to. No way was I going to the extra trouble of fighting three guards, not for the pittance that Mo was paying me.
“Come on,” he rumbled. “I don’t like carving up little girls, but I’ve done it before.”
I didn’t think he was being overly insulting with the little girl crack, since he looked to be at least fifty.
So I sighed and slumped my shoulders, as though I were beaten. Then I reached into my coat pocket, drew out the black velvet box, and held it up where the leader could see it. His eyes weren’t as good as mine—few people’s were—but he recognized it.
He nodded, stepped forward, and held out his hand.
I grinned and tucked the box back into my pocket. “On second thought, I think I’ll hang onto it. Later, fellas.”
I hopped onto the ledge of the roof, took hold of the drainpipe, and stepped off into the night air.
The wet metal slid through my fingers like greased lightning. It would have laid the flesh of my palms open all the way to the bone, if I hadn’t been wearing my gloves. The wind whipped through my black hair, pulling pieces of it free from my ponytail, and I let out a small, happy laugh at the sheer, thrilling rush of plummeting toward the earth. At the last moment, I gripped the drainpipe much tighter, until the screech-screech-screech of metal rang in my ears. But the motion slowed my descent and even caused a bit of smoke to waft up from my gloves.
Five seconds later, my sneakers touched the sidewalk. I let go of the drainpipe, stepped back, and looked up.
The guards were hanging over the side of the roof, staring at me with gaping mouths. One of them lurched toward the drainpipe, as if to follow me, but in his rush, he ended up ripping the top part of the metal completely away from the side of the brownstone. The rest of the drainpipe broke away from the wall and clattered to the ground, causing a few rusty sparks to shoot through the air. Looked like he was a magick after all, one with a Talent for strength. Chagrined, that guard turned to face the leader and held out the length of pipe.
The leader slapped him upside the head with the hilt of his sword. The second guard dropped out of sight, probably knocked unconscious by the hard blow. Apparently, the leader had a Talent for strength as well. The third guard eyed the sidewalk, like he was thinking about leaping over the ledge, but the roof was more than sixty feet up from the pavement. There was no way he could survive that high of a fall, not unless he had some sort of healing Talent. Even then, it would be a big risk to take and not worth the pain of the broken bones. The guard knew it too and backed away from the ledge, which was exactly what I’d been counting on.
When he realized that they weren’t going to catch me, the leader screamed out his rage and brandished his sword in the air, but that was all he could do.
I gave him a mock salute, then slid my hands into my coat pockets and strolled down the sidewalk, whistling a soft, cheery tune.
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Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
Her Elemental Assassin series follows the life and times of Gin “the Spider” Blanco, a barbecue restaurant owner who also happens to be an assassin with magical control over the elements of Ice and Stone.
The Mythos Academy series focuses on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. She studies at Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors.
Her Bigtime paranormal romance books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.
Estep’s new Black Blade series is about 17-year-old thief Lila Merriweather, who has a Talent for sight, along with the ability to take magic others used against her to boost her own powers. She tries not to get involved with the Families who control much of the town, but ends up in the middle of a potential turf war.