THE MEDUSA FILES: CASE 7

 

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CASE #7
Set in Stone

To free the one man she trusts, she must work with a man who hates her.

If Morgan had thought life couldn’t get more complicated, she was dead wrong. The attraction between her and Gage has risen to sizzling heights—making Lachlin determined to force her from the team. As well, the madman toying with her has made it clear he has plans for her, and the team’s undercover operation didn’t eliminate the High Council’s suspicion of treason.

Those suspicions increase when Gage is arrested by human authorities for murder, and now Morgan must find a way to work with Lachlin—and his dark, seductive draw—to clear Gage’s name.

CHAPTER 1

Morgan drifted awake. Pain radiated through her side, over her chest, and screamed across her right cheek. Gage was in trouble. He’d been arrested and was injured and—

And Lachlin had punched her—again.

She jerked up, sending more pain roaring through her. She was handcuffed to a hospital bed, and Hannah stood at a sink on the other side of the room, washing her hands. Morgan’s body was still wrong, her shape under the blanket too busty and hippy for her usual self, which meant the magical implant that had changed her into a nymph was still in her shoulder.

The pixie’s wings fluttered. “Good, you’re awake.”

“Where am I?”

“In the team’s clinic. I wish Lachlin would stop hitting you.”

“Only way to keep her from killing anyone.” Lachlin’s voice slid over her, all sex and all male. It drew a shiver of attraction through her traitorous body. God, even when it was clear he hated her, she still desired him. He leaned against the wall beside the door, his expression hard, his body tense.

“I’m pretty sure with the implant in her shoulder holding back her powers there wasn’t a risk of that,” Hannah said, her tone sharp. “Something we should be taking out.”

“No.”

“At least let me finish healing the deepest cut and increase the painkiller spell.”

“No,” he said. “She won’t die. She’s fine.”

“She isn’t fine.” Hannah’s wings trembled, sending fine glittering dust swirling around her.

“I say she is. Now get out. You can check on her later.”

Hannah glared at him and stormed into the hall. Who the hell was this Lachlin? Morgan had never seen this side of him. Not even Gage wanted to piss off Hannah—probably because they needed her to keep patching up everyone on the team and if she was mad at you, she probably wouldn’t use her painkiller spell.

Lachlin leveled his hard glare at Morgan. Blue light radiated from his too-large eyes. His glamour was fully down, making his ears into delicate points and his hair waist-length. Fury shook him. He shifted closer, grabbing the bed’s sidebar, only half raised, and clutched it so tight his knuckles turned white.

“What? You’re going to punch me again?” She could be pissed off, too. The operation hadn’t gone the way it was supposed to. Darzi was dead and Gage in human police custody.

“Don’t tempt me. I knew you’d be trouble the moment Gage brought you onto this team.”

“It was his call.”

“Right now it’s mine.”

“You shouldn’t have let him get arrested.” They needed to regroup, figure out what they were going to do about Darzi and the High Council.

“Oh, yeah, I should have stormed down there and done what against a dozen armed cops?” His eyes narrowed. “What I should have done is let them take you, too.”

“Gage is cut up from his fight with that demon, and he was shot in the back. He needs medical attention.”

“I know. And whose fault is that? You let yourself get captured by Darzi, an imp, of all the fucking Kin. How stupid can you be?”

She shuddered. Darzi had been a nasty piece of work. A part of her was glad he was dead. If she hadn’t managed to fight free, she would have ended up beaten, sliced to bloody shreds, and raped. To make it worse, she’d also been tricked by the loki, Keir—someone she’d sort of trusted—who’d seen through the magic hiding her identity and sold her to Darzi. “If you hadn’t spent your time flirting with the owner of the Club and actually backed me up, maybe the operation wouldn’t have gone the way it did. I got stabbed.”

He leaned closer, his chest heaving with hard breaths, and the glow from his eyes bled across his cheeks even with the bright overhead light. “I should have let you bleed out.”

Ice swept through her. He might not have done it this time, but it was clear he’d give it serious thought next time. This was not the man she’d first met just under a month ago. “What is your problem?”

“You. You’re going to get yourself killed.” The muscles in his neck and arms stood out. “I don’t really care about that, but you’re going to take me and Gage down with you.”

“I’m not going to get anyone killed. I’m not some useless civilian.”

“No, you’re a half-breed who can’t control her powers and has a big fucking target painted on her. If you hadn’t gone off with Gage the other night, none of this would have happened. The Council wouldn’t have sent us after Darzi, Gage wouldn’t have had to fight that demon, and we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“This mess would have happened with or without me. Gage would have gone off on his own if I hadn’t been there.” But she couldn’t tell Lachlin about their fight with the High Council’s claw devils while trying to protect the outlawed Shadow House. Telling him would only drag him deeper into the problems with the Council and could get him into more trouble.

“If you hadn’t been there, he would have called me for help.”

“I doubt that.”

“What the fuck do you know?” He jerked even closer, his black hair sweeping forward and creating a veil around his face and hers. His gaze dipped to her lips, and his breath streamed hard and hot against her cheeks. “I don’t owe you any loyalty. You are not your mother, and Gage would be wise to remember that.”

“I didn’t ask for this,” she said, her voice low.

His gaze dipped again to her lips, and the light from his eyes intensified, bathing them in the center of a blue sun. Her heart stuttered at the memory of his charm, sliding slick and hot through her. If he’d wanted to torture her, that was probably the worst he could do: make her feel like that then yank it away. She was never going to forget his charm, how in control she’d felt compared to his brother’s charm, how sensitive and sensual that moment the other night in her bedroom had been.

But that had been a lie. He’d been manipulated by a cupid and this right now was how he really felt about her. Not to mention she’d had sex with Gage yesterday. That made everything more complicated.

Except with Lachlin so close, all she could think about was being in her bedroom… with him.

His breath stuttered, and he wrenched back, his hair brushing over her face. “I don’t fucking care what you asked for.”

He stormed out the door and Morgan blew out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Complicated didn’t begin to cover this mess.

“What do you want?” he growled to someone in the hall.

“Answers.” That was Loric’s soft voice, barely audible. “The Council wanted Darzi alive.”

“No shit.”

Something banged against the wall. Hard. The painting above the chair in the corner by the door rattled and tilted.

“Watch your tongue, fae, or the Council will take that, too,” Loric said.

“Your precious sibyl said there wouldn’t be a problem, that we wouldn’t run up against anyone with true sight, and no one would know our identities,” Lachlin said. “So you tell me what the fuck happened?”

“It had to be an anomaly. The lord Sibyl must have seen a false future.”

“That false future almost killed Gage.”

“He knew the risks when he went in. You all did.”

“The gorgon knows nothing. She doesn’t know the risks, she doesn’t know your politics, and that’s dangerous for everyone. Cut her loose,” Lachlin said.

“You don’t give me, the Sibyl, or the High Council orders. You’re only free from purgatory because of Alexander. Don’t forget that.”

“Never have,” Lachlin said, and he stormed past the door down the hall.

Wonderful. Lachlin was making friends with everyone tonight. Pissing off the High Council’s man wasn’t going to help anything—particularly since Lachlin didn’t know that Loric was actually on their side.

The sibyl’s bodyguard, Loric, stepped into the doorway. His large figure took up most of the space inside the doorframe. He was big, like Clayton, but the golem’s polar opposite in coloring, being white, all the color bleached from him save for his bright blue eyes.

“Well, this is a mess,” he said.

“You think?”

He sighed. “Attitude from you, too?”

“Sorry.” She shifted to get a better view of him, sending agony screaming through her side and drawing a sharp gasp.

Loric frowned. “He didn’t even allow you a painkiller spell?”

“He’s in a very bad mood.” And she was pretty sure most of it was because of her. It was clear Lachlin thought she was responsible for getting Gage into this disaster—which wasn’t true—but he was right that her powers were barely controlled and that was dangerous for everyone. Except she had a feeling there was more going on, more to do with her relationship with Gage and Gage’s friendship with Lachlin.

“Keeping the spell from you still isn’t right.” Loric ran his hands over his face. The man was in a difficult situation. He and the sibyl, Blake, were friends with Gage, but they also belonged to the High Council and needed to maintain the appearance that they didn’t like him.

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“The Council will be furious that Darzi is dead. They wanted to question him. This isn’t good for Gage.”

“And Blake didn’t foresee any of this? He said this operation was the best of three bad choices.”

“He told me you’d apprehend Khalid Darzi and hand him over to the Council,” Loric said.

“Would he have told you if this was going to go sideways?” Perhaps Blake had kept this information from everyone to protect them. Except she couldn’t see how this was protecting anyone. She didn’t even know how Darzi had died—save that she’d heard gunshots and could guess at the manner of his death—and she didn’t even know if Gage had killed him, only that the police were there awfully fast.

“He would have told me. He wouldn’t have picked an operation that ensured Gage faced formal interrogation from the Council. If the Council hasn’t heard about any of this, they will soon, and they’ll send someone to find out what happened,” Loric said, his tone implying that the way of finding out wouldn’t be good. “Truth spells don’t work on djinns or gorgons, so the method will be unpleasant.”

Morgan shuddered. She’d seen the Council’s men send packs of claw devils, ferocious creatures more man than monster, after children. The Council’s men had also commanded a fire elemental to burn down a house, knowing there were infants inside. She didn’t want to see what unpleasant meant.

“We have to figure out what the hell happened.”

A loki was what had happened, at least in part, but she didn’t know if she wanted anyone else to know that. She had no idea who she could trust. She’d thought she could trust Lachlin, but now she wasn’t sure. It was clear if he had to pick her or Gage, he’d throw her under the bus. Could she trust Loric?

Loric sighed. “And Lachlin needs to fall in line or the Council will take more pieces from him.”

“How are you going to get him to do that? He thinks you’re the enemy.”

“I am the enemy. Doesn’t matter what I or Blake feel about Alexander. It always comes back to upholding the Council’s business. There’s only so much we can do. They might not have proof that he helped the forsaken, but more than half of them believe it’s true. With this new turn of events, they’ll think he killed Darzi to hide something.”

And what if he had? He’d already proven he’d kill as a means to an end. He’d been forced to kill during the operation and knew before they’d even started that was what the Council expected of him.

“So what do we do?” Morgan drew in a deep breath. Pain spiked through her side, and she lost the breath and gasped the next ones. She was in no condition to do anything. Hell, she was handcuffed to the bed—only one wrist, so she could escape, if she found a pin or paperclip—but still, she doubted Lachlin would let Hannah heal her any time soon. She didn’t even have her powers or the right body.

“Not sure yet.” Loric straightened, his expression turning hard as Hannah stepped into the room. “The Council will want words with you, Ms. Jacobs. There are consequences for failure.”

He strode from the room. Hannah’s wings trembled, swirling more pixie dust around her. Morgan didn’t know how to fix this, but she was going to figure out how.

“I can’t convince you to heal me?” she asked. “Maybe give me my real body back?”

Hannah glanced at the door. “No.”

Morgan gave the handcuff a gentle rattle. “Can you at least uncuff me?”

“No.” Hannah stepped to the bed. “But I can put you to sleep to ease your pain.”

“I don’t want to go to sleep.” She needed to figure out how to help Gage.

Hannah placed a hand on Morgan’s forehead. “Lachlin’s orders. Unconscious and out of trouble.”

Morgan jerked against Hannah’s hand, snapping pain through her side, but the pixie pressed her palm harder, pinning Morgan’s head to the pillow. “Sorry.”

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