“I’m gonna fry you like a chicken.”
Blue arcs of electricity leaped from my clenched fists as I studied my opponents. They stood on either side of me, sizing me up. The cold bastard on my right had his hands folded behind his back, while the dipshit to my left stuck his thumbs in the front pockets of his jeans and sighed.
They no longer saw me as a threat.
A few months ago—hell, even a few of weeks ago—I was the powerhouse. One stray static discharge from my pinky finger snagged their attention. That was when the world was right. I was the oldest, the most powerful.
At least I used to be.
“Come on, Pierce,” my youngest brother, Mason, said. He dug his gloved hands farther into his jean pockets to scratch his balls. “Is this necessary?”
“Yes,” I growled.
“He’s got something to prove,” Thad shouted to Mason from where he stood on the rear lawn of Blackmoor Manor. He combed his fingers through his strawberry blond hair before readjusting the green scarf around his neck. “We might as well drop our pants and get out the measuring tape.”
Mason barked in laughter and, after removing his hand from his pocket, slapped it against his thigh. I didn’t find it funny. My brothers needed to be reminded that after Dad, I was the baddest warlock in the family.
“Big talk needs to be backed up,” I said. I funneled more of my magic to my hands, sending snaking lines of blue energy sizzling toward the cold ground.
“This isn’t wise,” Thad said. “Using our powers out in the open like this is a big risk.”
Thad had to be shitting me. Blackmoor Manor was on the biggest, most isolated plot of land in all of Havenbridge. “Stop making excuses and power up.”
“Or what?” Thad asked. His arched eyebrow issued just as much of a challenge as his tone. “You’ll attack us anyway? What the hell will that prove?”
“Just. Power. Up.”
“Come on, guys. All y’all are actin’ foolish.” That was Drake Carpenter, Mason’s boyfriend. I usually found his Southern drawl soothing. Today it only pissed me off. Mostly because I could hear the pity in his tone. He felt sorry for me, and that only ticked me off even more.
I glared over my shoulder at where he stood shivering on the redbrick porch. He had his hands shoved into his blue North Face jacket, and his sandy blond hair dangled across his forehead. “Stay out of this, Drake. This is a family matter.”
His shoulders slumped, and he took a step back as if I’d punched him.
“What the fuck, man?” Mason asked. He stomped across the dead grass toward me. The shadows cast by the weakened December sun crawled across the lawn toward my brother, most likely in response to his summons. “That’s not cool.”
No, it wasn’t. We were the only family Drake had now. Well, at least the only family that hadn’t come back from the dead as a vampyre. I’d make it up to Drake later. Buy him a root beer or some other crap food that he and Mason loved to ruin their bodies with. All I cared about right now was that Mason was angry enough to fight.
One down. One to go.
“I’ll tell you what’s not cool,” I said. “Having a fucking vampyre for a boyfriend.”
Thad inhaled sharply, and his face flushed.
My brothers were too predictable. It had always been easy to get a rise out of them, but now that they were no longer single ladies, it was even easier to yank their chains. Thad hated that the family still didn’t fully trust his newly vamped boyfriend. What the hell was a vampyre fairy anyway?
“Don’t make me hurt you,” Thad said in a quiet, measured tone.
I snorted. “You’ve got that backward, Brainiac.” He had hated that nickname ever since he was a kid, and that was the straw that broke Thad’s back.
Thad, who was usually the most reserved of us all, charged. The already-chilled Massachusetts temperature dropped a few more degrees as Thad clicked on his ice powers. An icicle formed in his right hand, and he hurled it at me.
I had to admit, I was pretty fucking disappointed. An icicle? From a man who’d recently summoned a fucking blizzard?
I didn’t even have to move to shrug that attack off. I nudged one of the arcs of lightning from my fist in the direction of the icicle, shattering it before it could come within twenty feet of me. “You’ll have to do better than that.”
“I’m planning on it,” Mason said before jumping on my back. His fists struck the back of my neck.
Since I had at least forty more pounds and a lot more muscle than my little brother, the blows were more irritating than anything else. I reached back, grabbed Mason by his coat, and hurled him off me. He landed with a yelp that reminded me of a scared puppy.
Now that was what I needed.
Ice formed around my hands, cutting off my power source. I turned just in time to see Thad’s fist coming right at me. I stepped out of the way and stuck out my leg, letting his momentum trip him up and send him face-first into the dead grass.
Their powers might have grown, but they still didn’t know how to fight worth a damn.
I pushed more power through to my arms. Lightning streaked from my fists, splintering the ice Thad had formed in his lame attempt at muzzling my magic. I glanced at my brothers, who were once again upright, their chests heaving.
“You’re about to get your ass handed to you on a platter,” Mason said. Black energy hummed around his fists. He was preparing to fire off a shadow blast.
Thad didn’t say a word. His upper lip curled into a snarl as he took a deep breath.
He’d done that once before, back in fairyland. He exhaled a snowstorm that almost took out that dumb fuck Ben, who’d been a major pain in our asses for the past couple of months. Lucky for me, I wasn’t as big of an idiot as everyone thought I was.
“Propellit,” I whispered with a flick of my wrist, and Thad and Mason flew backward ten feet before slamming back onto the hard ground and skidding another few inches.
Now that was fucking funny. I laughed so hard I almost pissed myself.
Thad and Mason eyed each other before nodding. They rose in unison and stood their ground.
“Finally ready to get serious?” I asked.
Thad nodded once, his jaw tense. Mason shot me a thin smile before saying, “This is gonna hurt.”
Shadowy tentacles gripped me from behind. They coiled around my hands and legs, anchoring me to the ground. Another set wrapped around my chest, making it difficult to breathe. This was uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt one bit.
Pain exploded in my groin as an inky limb grabbed my junk, tugging and twisting in directions my cock and balls were never meant to travel.
I let out a cry of pain before ice formed across my lips, sealing them shut and sending sharp, stinging pinpricks coursing through my mouth. The agony was worse than fifth grade, when I kissed the flagpole in the middle of winter on a dare. It had taken me a week before I could whistle again.
I yanked against my shadowy restraints. My muscles strained, and perspiration slid down my cheek from the effort. They wouldn’t budge, and the fucking tentacle between my legs wouldn’t let my shit go. How the hell was I going to get out of this one?
“Just surrender already,” Thad said.
“Screw that,” Mason replied. “He has to do more than cry uncle. He’s got to admit his days as king of the magical hill are over.”
Thad nodded, a triumphant smile practically cracking his face in two. “I agree. Just admit we’re more powerful than you are and we’ll stop.”
Like that was ever going to fucking happen. I’d rather nose-dive naked into a pile of dirty syringes. I narrowed my eyes at them in reply.
“Suit yourself,” Thad said before turning to Mason. “Do you want to go first?”
He nodded and cracked his knuckles.
“Mason, stop!” Drake ran out to them. He glanced at me before turning his disappointed gaze upon them. “That’s enough. I think you boys have made your point.”
Oh fuck this! There was no way I was going to let a human come to my rescue. I liked Drake and all, but no one was going to pull my ass from this fire except me.
“He fucking deserves it,” Mason complained to his boyfriend. “When he’s not mouthing off about how powerful he is, he’s shoving my face into his sweaty pit or something equally disgusting. I’ve had enough!”
“I hate to agree with Mason,” Thad said, “but he’s right. Pierce needs to be taught a lesson. He’s not in high school anymore. It’s time he grew up and acted like an adult.”
“This isn’t right,” Drake added. “He’s obviously tryin’ to overcompensate because your powers have grown.”
Who the hell was I? Shelby from Steel Magnolias? There was no way these bitches were gonna talk about me like I wasn’t here.
I shut my eyes and blocked out the pain. It was a distraction. I had to focus only on the raw magic that had coursed through my veins since I turned twelve. I was the first Blackmoor to tap into my active power at such a young age, and I’d used that gift to get me out of tighter spots than being hog-tied and sexually assaulted by Mason’s shadow puppets.
I willed the lightning within me to my fingertips. The energy crackled and burned my fingers, but I had to push past that too. I had to overload Mason’s restraints, pour more and more power into my fingers until either it short-circuited my bonds or blew off my hands.
Either way, I’d be free.
“Pierce, what are you doing?”
I paid no attention to Thad. He was trying to distract me from getting free. I sent even more energy surging through my limbs. Not only were my fingers on fire, so were my arms and now my chest. I clenched my jaw so tightly my teeth started to hurt. It was like I was biting down on aluminum foil.
“You need to stop,” Mason said. His voice cracked. He was clearly worried I was going to get free and kick his ass so hard he wouldn’t be able to sit for a week.
More energy flooded my hands. The burning spread down my chest to my legs and up to my head. The usual low buzz of my power turned into audible crackles and pops that reminded me of a transformer ready to blow. I was almost there.
“Shut it down!” Thad screamed. “Now!”
“Listen to them,” Drake yelled. “You’re gonna hurt yourself.”
“Fuck that!” Mason added. “He’s gonna hurt us.”
Damn straight I was.
Sweat ran down my face, and my body shook with electrical current. It was like I’d become a live wire. It was time.
When I opened my eyes, I didn’t understand what I saw. Someone had replaced the world around me with waves of blue, orange, and yellow that formed people and trees.
What the fuck did my brothers do to me?
“Pierce, are you okay?”
I turned to my right. Someone mostly made of orange stood next to me. Lines of blue and green coursed through his body. It sounded like Thad, but it sure didn’t look like him.
“Whatever you’re doing, stop!”
A person made of yellow stood twenty feet ahead of me. Inside him flowed threads of silver and gold. Was that Mason? And who was that behind him? That person wasn’t made of any one color. He reflected all colors at once, making him a being of almost pure white light.
“Do somethin’,” the radiant figure said. That sure sounded like Drake, but why did he look so different from everyone else?
I switched my focus from the people to the world around me. The forest along the back of our property had been turned to a solid black with spots of green twinkling within. The sky above glowed yellow before turning to orange and then red. At the highest point in the sky, a dark blue slowly gave way to a deep violet.
In the distance, I spotted birds. A strange crystalline light surrounded them and alternating colors of yellow, blue, and green radiated off the bodies of all of them except the one flying in front. It was composed of a pink aura with threading lines of dark red and royal blue.
What made that bird so different from the others, and why did I want to go chasing after it?
“Will you listen to me, dammit?”
The orange Thad shook me by the shoulders before a brilliant blue surrounded him and sent him flying across the backyard.
What the fuck happened? I surveyed the backyard, looking for whoever attacked my brother.
“What did you do?” the yellow Mason asked as he ran to where Thad landed.
“Me?” I asked, but my voice didn’t sound like my voice. Instead of words, I crackled and popped.
If only I wasn’t still restrained by Mason’s shadows, I’d go over and check on Thad. That was when I realized I could move my arms and my balls were no longer being squeezed to death. How long had I been free?
“Pierce, you’ve got to calm the fuck down.”
Mason crouched by Thad, who moaned in pain.
“Is he okay?” I asked, but my voice still wasn’t working right. It sounded like static.
I had to find a way to make myself understood. I pointed at Thad, planning on following the gesture with a thumbs-up to get my point across. Instead a brilliant blue line of energy exited my pointing figure and crashed right into my brothers in an explosive thunderclap. Their bodies flew across the lawn.
Holy shit! What did I just do?
“Pierce, listen to me.” Drake, or the white energy that seemed to be him, slowly backed away from me. “You’re out of control, man. Your power’s goin’ everywhere. You’ve got to discharge it now. Before it’s too late.”
What the fuck was he talking about?
I held my hand in front of my face, except it wasn’t my hand. At least, not really. The flesh, blood, and bone had been replaced with lines of surging energy that arced off my body and singed everything around me.
What the hell was going on?
“Do it!” Drake yelled. “Now!”
I aimed my hands at the sky and expelled whatever had gotten into me. Never-ending streaks of deep blue shot out of my body and crackled overhead, turning the once multicolored sky into an electric blue. The snaking trails of energy crisscrossed through the firmament like a lightning storm until they made their way to the innocent birds that had progressed just over the forest behind the estate.
I watched in horror as my power fried the birds that emanated varying colors. Their fluctuating spectrum stopped the moment the blue lines of energy collided with their bodies. The bird with the pink aura tried to avoid the crackling discharge. It dipped and angled, doing its best to escape, but there was too much energy released all at once.
A stray line of power shot through its body, and it fell from the sky until eventually the blackness that was now the forest swallowed it up.
“Pierce, are you okay?” Drake asked.
With each blink of my eyes, he flashed between the flesh-and-blood Drake and the glowing white aura he’d become. It made me dizzy.
I tried to shake it off, but reality continued to warp around me.
When I took a step forward, my world went black.