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Addicted

Touched #2


Suffering from the addiction to the Sidhe Touch, London is obsessed with finding a source of magic that can ease her curse. Unfortunately, premium magic like the Touch comes with one a heck of a high price tag. Working off the debt she’s racked up to the dealer may well terminate her addiction once and for all, because nothing’s more dangerous than doing a Changeling’s dirty work.

 






Excerpt


 

Chapter One


(This story begins two weeks before the final scenes in

Scars of Silver: Rise of the Unseelie #2)



“Are you sure he’s Sidhe? Not just some other kind of fey?” The very notion that the four young vampires across from her might lead her to a Sidhe catapulted her heart into a frenzied beat. It was all London could do not to reach across the booth and snatch one of them and demand they lead her to him. Knowing that they might still have a wisp of his magic embedded in their bodies had her fingers curling, wanting to tear open their flesh to get at it. That’s how horribly the addiction shredded her. Even the barest notion of Sidhe magic slashed at her sanity. The Sidhe Touch was the only thing that could give her relief from the growing, aching desire. London hated it. Hated that this obsession possessed her so mercilessly, destroying the life she’d once known, eliminating the freedom she’d once taken for granted.


Digging her nails into her palms, London fought within herself to pull free of the fixation long enough to focus on this conversation.


She leaned forward, her elbows on the more-clean-than-not table. The circle of faint light from the hanging bulb overhead left the corners of the booth in partial shadow. The bar catered to parahumans, so was darker than most. Vamps and weres, with their sharp night vision, didn’t require a lot of light to see by. As a human accustomed to the ways of the parahumans, it didn’t faze London. The place had a stripped down appearance -- all dark wood furniture and paneling, hardy furnishings that didn’t break easily. The seats didn’t even have any cushioning. No pictures or what-nots on the walls that would become debris when fights broke out, less to have to clean up. Clearly a bar owned by weres, rather than vampires. Not that they discriminated.


The young vampires in the circular booth glanced at each other, each waiting for one of the others to answer her question. London knew newbie vampires when she spotted them. The lack of confidence was telling. They were separated into couples, which was another giveaway. In another few decades they wouldn’t waste time playing the boyfriend/girlfriend game.


“Well, they said he was a Sidhe, you know? But for real, how would you know if he’s Sidhe or not? Is there some kind of sign?” Charnel, the blonde girl in the white leather bustier leaned forward, giving London a far better view than she wanted.


“All fey have magic in their blood. But the Sidhe, they are something special. Something more.” London understood parahumans. She negotiated their world almost like one of them. Not like the fey. She’d not been prepared for them at all, especially not the Sidhe. Even this barest thought of them sent her mind tripping compulsively back into unwanted remembrance.


Rico had barely brushed her skin with his fingers and London’s world shattered. Just like that. The bastard did it on purpose. Cursed her to enslave her. To make her work for him. Then he went and got himself killed, abandoning London to this endless torment.


She peeled the label off her bottle of Guinness in strips, gave her hands something to do other than tremble. The craving for the Touch twisted within her worse than anything she’d known. Not even a vampire’s bloodlust seemed to compare. She’d never seen a vamp curl on the floor, hugging themselves and rocking, weeping with the need. Then again, they had lots of prey options. For London, only the Touch of the Sidhe would suffice. Only the Touch would relieve the pain. Wash away the anxiety. Make her feel whole and normal for a little while. But the Sidhe were scarce, all but impossible to find.


The closest thing she could compare the curse to was heroin addiction. Now she understood the way the crawling under the skin made them twitch. The circular thoughts spiraled over and over. The nightmares. So close to the fringes of insanity that keeping it together to even fake normal grew increasingly impossible until all you wanted to do was scream and claw your own flesh.


Every day it grew worse. Rico was gone. If he was still alive she’d do anything… anything for relief. He could send her to face a thousand Changelings with nothing but a pocketknife and she’d do it, just as long as he Touched her again.


Shivering as the memories she tried to bury rose once more, summoned by the addiction, London brushed her lips with her fingertips. Rico kissed her once. Just once. Filled her mouth with magic. Made her inhale it. Swallow it. Seep into her body. Awakened her to a pleasure too intense to endure. She’d felt it change her. Curse her. And now bereft of it, she longed for nothing else but to experience the Touch again. Only the power of the Touch could ease her agony.


She had to have it. She had to have it soon!


Struggling to find composure, London raked her fingers through her hair. No time to play games, she tried the blunt approach. “The Sidhe can Touch you with their magic right through the skin. You don’t even need to drink their blood to get high.”


Immediately, the girls squirmed against their guys. The guys had the “going to get laid” stupid grins. Oh, yeah. The fey they’d been telling her about was definitely a Sidhe. “Where is he? This Sidhe?”


“Well, that’s kinda the trick,” Colin, the shorter and darker of the guys, laughed. He was nearly hidden in the shadow of the booth, his arm around his girlfriend, Brandy. Tattoos sleeved his bare arms. A tiny hoop pierced his eyebrow. “You don’t find him. You get magicked to him.”


“Magicked?”


“Yep. Zip zap. There ye be.” Colin snorted a laugh, one a little too gregarious thanks to the shots he’d been downing.


Brandy, his girlfriend-slash-translator, rolled her eyes, which was more teen-dramatic with the glittery eye makeup. “There’s this bloke. Rand’s his name. He does the magic. He brings you there and he brings you back. He makes all the deals. Takes the payment. That kinda stuff.”


“Where do I find this bloke?”


Charnel obliged her by using her eye pencil on a paper napkin. She slid it across the table.


London picked it up and then frowned. “What’s this mean? Twelve thousand?”


“That’s what it’ll cost you.” She smiled, fangs flashing.


“Twelve thousand for the location? I don’t think so.” London dropped the napkin, ready to pretend she would walk out rather than pay the ridiculous price.


“No. The cash isn’t for us, it’s for Rand.” She chomped with her sharp, white teeth. “The twelve thousand buys a party.”


London tapped her finger on the tabletop as she thought. “When?”


“When can you get it?” Charnel laughed.


The adventure continues in Addicted - Touched #2