Key of Light (Key 1) - Page 127

Chills crawled along her skin as she turned to the right. She wished for a jacket, for a flashlight. For her friends. For Flynn. She forced herself not to run, not to rush blindly. The room was a maze of impossible corridors.

It didn’t matter. Just another trick, one meant to confuse and frighten her. Somewhere in this house was the key, and her friends. She would find them.

Panic tickled her throat as she walked. The air was silent now, even her lonely footsteps were smothered by the blue mist. What was more frightening to the human heart than being cold and lost and alone? He was using that against her, playing her with her own instinct.

Because he couldn’t touch her unless she allowed it.

“You’re not going to make me run,” she shouted. “I know who I am and where I am, and you’re not going to make me run.”

She heard someone call her name, just the faintest ripple through the thick air. Using it as a guide, she turned again.

The cold intensified, and the mists swirled with wet. Her clothes were damp, her skin chilled. The call could have been another trick, she thought. She could hear nothing now but the blood beating inside her own head.

It hardly mattered which direction she chose. She could walk endlessly in circles or stand perfectly still. It wasn’t a matter of finding her way, or being misdirected now. It was, she realized, nothing more than a battle of wills.

The key was here. She meant to find it; he meant to stop her.

“It must be lowering to pit yourself against a mortal woman. Wasting all your power and skill on someone like me. And still, the best you can do is this irritating blue-light special.”

An angry red glow edged the mist. Though Malory’s heart plunged, she gritted her teeth and kept moving. Maybe it wasn’t wise to challenge a sorcerer, but aside from the risk she realized another side effect.

She could see another door now where the red and blue lights merged.

The attic, she thought. It had to be. Not illusionary corridors and turns, but the true substance of the house.

She focused on it as she walked forward. When the mists shifted, thickened, swirled, she ignored them and kept the image of the door in her head.

At last, her breath shallow, she plunged a hand through the fog and clamped her fingers around the old glass knob.

Warmth, a welcome flood of it, poured over her as she pulled the door open. She started up, into the dark, with the blue mist creeping behind her.

OUTSIDE, Flynn navigated through the mean-tempered storm, edging forward in the driver’s seat to peer through the curtain of rain that his wipers could barely displace.

In the backseat, Moe whimpered like a baby.

“Come on, you coward, it’s just a little rain.” Lightning pitchforked through the black sky, followed by a boom of thunder like a cannon blast. “And some lightning.”

Flynn cursed and muscled the wheel in position when the car bucked and shuddered. “And some wind,” he added. With gusts approaching gale force.

It hadn’t seemed like more than a quick thunderstorm when he’d left the office. But it worsened with every inch of road. As Moe’s whimpers turned to pitiful howls, Flynn began to worry that Malory or Dana or Zoe, maybe all three of them, had gotten caught in the storm.

They should have been at the house by now, he reminded himself. But he would have sworn that the rage of the storm was worse, considerably worse, on this end of town. Fog had rolled down from the hills, blanketed them in gray as thick and dense as wool. His visibility decreased, forcing him to slow down. Even at a crawl, the car fishtailed madly on a turn.

“We’ll just pull over,” he said to Moe. “Pull over and wait it out.”

Anxiety skated up his spine, but instead of easing when he nudged the car to the curb, it clamped on to the back of his neck like claws. The sound of the rain pounding like fists on the roof of the car seemed to hammer into his brain.

“Something’s wrong.”

He pulled out into the street again, his hands vising on the wheel as the wind buffeted the car. Sweat, born of effort and worry, snaked down his back. For the next three blocks he felt like a man fighting a war.

There was a trickle of relief when he spotted the cars in the driveway. They were okay, he told himself. They were inside. No problem. He was an idiot.

“Told you there was nothing to worry about,” he said to Moe. “Now you’ve got two choices. You can pull yourself together and come inside with me, or you can stay here, quaking and quivering. Up to you, pal.”

Relief drained away when he parked at the curb and looked at the house.

If the storm had a heart, it was there. Black clouds boiled over the house, pumped the full force of their fury. Even as he watched, lightning lanced down, speared like a fiery arrow into the front lawn. The grass went black in a jagged patch.

Tags: Nora Roberts Key Fantasy
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