Hex of the Fire Witch Sample Page


Chapter 1

I met him in the middle of the night.

I met him in a dark alley with nothing but broken bottles and empty cigarette butts around.

I met him with the chirping of crickets and other small insects in the background.

I met him with the smell of dirt and trash filling the air.

I met him with the temperature so cold, it felt like we were trapped inside a mountain of ice.

 “You got a smoke?” he asked, eyes never leaving my own.

A shiver went down my spine. His eyes bore into mine with an intensity that left me feeling uncomfortable, exposed. Mark Gravely, son of the Mafia Don, Greg Gravely.

I’d been out for a stroll. I had no idea I’d run into Mark Gravely before I made it back home.

Mark was handsome in a rough, rugged, sort of way. His six-three frame loomed over my six-foot-one. We were both in our late twenties but that’s where the similarities ended.

While I had short orange hair, his was purple, reaching to the nape of his neck. His muscles were thick, defined. Mine were there, but nowhere in his league. My eyes were orange, whereas his were silver and burned with an intensity I’d never seen.

His family was bigger than Royalty. Kings and queens, the lot of them. Everybody in the city knew them. Those with good sense stayed away. Apparently, I’d left my brain at home today.

I pulled the cigarette pack from my pocket and offered it to him. He took one out and put it to his lips. Fire leaped from my fingertip. He gave me a small grin, then moved closer to light it.

Hmm. He was near enough to smell, to lick. My heartbeat sped up to triple time. His scent was intoxicating. He smelled like whiskey, nicotine, and sweat.

Lovely. Delicious even. I ran a slow tongue across my upper lip. I fantasized about licking that long vein on the side of his neck.

But I had to be cautious. Mark had a reputation. He’d left plenty of guys brokenhearted. He was never with the same guy for too long.

I smiled. That was fine with me. I only wanted one night anyway. I wasn’t much for relationships either.

Mark must have seen the desire in my eyes because he raised a brow. “Plans for tonight?”

I shrugged because I hadn't given it much thought. I wasn’t ready to go home. I knew that. But... was I brave enough to hang out with Mark Gravely?

The danger of it made my pulse jump. Suddenly I felt like a rebel, a rogue. I smiled, liking the feeling of abandonment he bought me.

 “I’ll probably throw back a shot of liquor and maybe find a game or two to play,” I said. “You?”

He moved closer, making my breath hitch. He reminded me of a predator going in for the kill. “Yeah, I'm down for that.” His breath was hot and tantalizing against my face, making my pants swell. I swallowed hard, telling myself to keep it together. We were in an alley of all places.

 “I heard about this new spot,” he said. “They give you the first drink free and it’s all you can eat. Fifty-dollar cover charge.”

I nodded. That sounded good. Fifty dollars was nothing for a free drink and an all-you-could-eat buffet. I looked at Mark. Coming from a rich crime family, he probably didn’t care about the free drink or buffet. His family probably kept an endless bar and buffet set up day and night.  

Me? I owned my own company. Well, me and my partner. We did okay, but our net was nothing like what Mark and his family brought in.

He took a long pull off his smoke. “I’m Mark.” 

I nodded. “Liam.”

He watched me closely. “So, Liam, are you game?”

I debated for a minute, then decided what the hell. I liked living on the edge. It made my adrenaline pump. Right now, the Gravelys were in a heated battle with the Spiral’s, another mafia family.

 Anybody who got in the way was collateral. Somehow, knowing that, made a fire burn in the pit of my belly.

I wanted the danger, craved it. I’d always thrown myself into hazardous situations. The adrenaline rush was like a high I couldn’t find anywhere else.

 I’d never met Mark, but our families belonged to the same organization. It was a secret organization consisting of ten families, the Gyoun Council.

Not many knew it existed, but they set the rules in our world. It wasn’t something talked about in open conversation. There were rules to everything we did.

But tonight was all about having a good time.

Mark and I walked toward the after-hours spot together. Knowing he was at war with a rival mafia gang, made the fire within me heat with anticipation. “You ever been to this gambling house?” I asked him.

His family-owned liquor spots all over the city. How would his dad feel about him giving money to a gambling house he didn’t own?

Mark talked around the cigarette in his mouth. “I’ve heard good things about the place. I haven’t been.”

“Is it owned by your family?” I asked, just to be sure.

He narrowed his eyes like he was surprised I knew who he was. Of course, I knew him. Who didn’t? “I’m more than my family.”

I took out my own cigarette and lit it. He hadn’t answered my question. “Bet you won’t have to pay the cover charge. They’ll take one look at you, realize you’re a Gravely, and let you in for free.”

He stomped his cigarette on the ground under his heel. His eyes held interest now. “You don’t seem very scared.”

I shrugged. “Why should I be? I throw myself in front of moving freight trains when I’m bored.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, well walking with me is more dangerous. Especially now. Everyone wants a piece of Gravely flesh.”

I licked my lips. Well, now that he mentioned it…  

I was surprised at how lively our conversation was as we walked. If nothing else, it was a good way to distract from the bone-chilling cold. It felt like an arctic freezer out here.

Even my blood was cold, which wasn’t a pleasant feeling. We rounded the corner and walked for another ten minutes, still talking in a comfortable manner.

When we entered the alleyway, I heard a voice call out. “Hey.” We turned around to see three dudes.

They looked rough. Their clothes were torn and hanging off them. They came with a smell. It was rotten, filling up the entire alleyway. I held my nose. Perhaps they hadn’t bathed in days, weeks even. 

The first one was tall with green hair. He had multiple scars on his face, like he’d been in one too many fights and lost. Fire whipped around his hand up to his elbow.

The second one was short with yellow hair. Wind whipped around his feet, raising him in the air.

The third one was tall with black hair and green eyes. He carried a static bat in his hand, though his skin was static too.

Static bats were usually wrapped in barbwire and carried an electric charge. People like the guy with black hair also carried that electric charge on their skin.

I smiled, my pulse doing cartwheels. Tonight was turning out to be interesting after all. But I wondered… Were these thugs sent by the Spirals? Or was this something else?

Green hair stepped forward, a sneer on his face. He talked like he had a mouth full of garbage. “We just want the money. No one has to get hurt.” Ah, a robbery then. Who in their right mind would rob a Gravely in this town?

I looked at Mark. He balanced five small balls of water on the tip of his fingers. His eyes were intense, almost like he was hungry for the fight. Good, because I wasn’t letting these fuckers get away with this shit.

I held up my hands. “I ain’t giving you shit.”

“Wrong answer.” The one with the green hair charged forward. I shot fire at his neck. Not enough to harm him, just enough to sting him and slow him down.

Mark apparently had telekinesis on top of his water power. He rotated his hand, and Green Hair’s arm came loose from its socket, dangling by his side.

The other two ran up on us. The one with the yellow hair sent a blast of wind my way, knocking me backward.

I quickly got back to my feet, balancing small balls of fire on my fingertips. I threw them at Green Hair. Each ball hit a different acupoint, sealing them, making Green Hair unable to move.

The one with the static bat ran toward me. I made a motion with my hands, outlining his entire body with fire.

It prickled at his skin, burning ever so lightly. The more he moved, the hotter it got. He figured that out quickly and stayed in place, a wild look in his eyes.

Mark released the balls of water on his fingertips. They merged together, wrapping around Yellow Hair’s neck, choking him.

Mark’s eyes held contempt, rage. “I’m not fooled by this pretend robbery. Tell whoever hired you to come at me themselves.”

He turned to walk away, and I followed, leaving the three would-be robbers rooted to their spot. Someone would come along and free them eventually. Maybe next time they’d think twice before pulling some shit like this.

Mark assumed they were there for him, but I wasn’t so sure. This city was ripe with crime. Those three could’ve just wanted money for their next high. It hadn’t necessarily been a mafia hit.

Mark and I didn’t say much after that. I was lost in thought. Those guys hadn’t been aiming to kill us, just rob us. At least that’s how I’d taken it. I didn’t randomly kill people, not unless they tried to kill me first.

I’d always protect my life. If you tried to kill me, I’d come for you. That’s the world we lived in. But those three hadn’t been much of a threat.

Now that he’d had time to think about it, Mark probably felt the same. I turned to look at him. The homicidal rage was gone from his face. He was a Gravely. Shit like this happened to him often.

He’d kill to protect himself too. I’d heard stories of his murderous rampages. I thought back to the coldness I’d seen in his eyes earlier. He could probably kill fifty men at once and not even break a sweat or lose a night of sleep.

My face heated, and I felt my pants tighten. Man, I’d love to see that. It’d be… I shook my head. The fuck was wrong with me? Yes, I liked danger, but damn!

We walked another ten minutes. The house we eventually stopped at was brick, with gray and yellow shutters. It sat back off the street, enclosed inside a fence. The lawn looked newly manicured, and the paint on the shutters was so fresh, I was surprised it wasn’t dripping.

I raised a brow. I could imagine Sunday School picnics taking place here, not wild parties. “This is a gambling house?” I didn’t try to keep the skepticism out of my voice.

Mark shrugged in that cold detached manner of his. “So they say.” Who said? His friends? Did he have friends or just minions?

We walked to the door. I waited while he rang the bell.

A shout from inside told us someone would be with us in a moment. Now that we were closer, I could hear the music thumping from behind the door. I also heard loud voices. I smiled. The place seemed packed and lively.

The door opened and we walked through it together.

Except… what the fuck? I looked at Mark. His brows were drawn tightly together, his eyes searching out the space around us.

We weren’t in that house with the yellow and gray shutters. At least I didn't think we were. White sand and cool blue water spread for miles in front of us. And I didn’t see another person anywhere? Where had all the party people gone?

I blinked a few times, then turned to him. “How the hell did we end up on the fucking beach, man?”

He picked up a handful of sand, letting it slowly run through his fingers. “It's real.”

I stared daggers at him. It’d been his bright idea to come here in the first place. He may have been a Gravely, but I could be ruthless too when pushed.

Mark’s eyes went from the lapping water to the numerous sand dunes. “This is different. I don’t know what to tell you, Liam.”

I ran a hand down my face to quell some of my frustration. Where the fuck were we? “Talk to the water,” I said to him. “See what it tells you.” Mark controlled water, that meant he could communicate with it. Same with me and my fire.

He looked at me like I was the problem. We’d walked through the front door of a house and ended up on a freaking beach, but somehow, I was the thing pissing him off?

“I already tried,” he said. “It didn’t answer. Let’s just walk.”

A feeling of doom washed over me. “Are your powers not working?” I asked. I snapped my fingers. Nothing. No fire, no smoke, not even a spark. My heart beat like I’d just run a marathon, but I kept my eyes hooded, trying to play it cool.

We’d probably stepped into a different universe. Not that big of a deal, I traveled to different universes all the time. I thought of home. I reached out to the fire there, trying to form a bond.

Once I locked on a flame from my homeworld, I could connect my fire with it, and use it to bring me back home. I assumed Mark could do the same with his water.

Only, when I tried to find fire from home, nothing was there. I shook my head, refusing to panic. I’d try a different universe then. One I was already familiar with. One where the flame already knew me. I tried three different worlds before I gave up. I pulled out my phone. The screen was blank. I’d charged it before I’d left home, yet it acted like it was dead. What in the world?

I turned to Mark. He shook his head, showing me his blank phone screen.

I looked at my fingers, turning them over. Nothing was working. My powers were just gone, our phones were dead. My hands shook, fear clawing at my gut.

How had my powers just disappeared? Did it have something to do with those three guys who’d tried to rob us? I cleared my throat and looked around.

Mark watched me, like he was waiting for me to grasp what he’d already figured out. “Let’s walk then,” I said. We made it three feet before the sky opened and rain soaked us to the bone.

I wanted to run for shelter, but Mark was still walking like this was a normal day at the beach. I refused to embarrass myself, so I kept walking beside him, miserable and bitter. How long would we be exposed to this weather?

It was another five minutes before a cave appeared. Good. My clothes were sticking to me, and not in a good way. I was glad for the shelter.

“There’s a cave up ahead,” I said. The cave was covered in weeds and small plants, but I could still see an opening. We started in that direction.

Mark’s tone carried a warning. “Probably muddy and dirty as hell, dark too.”

And this was a problem, why? “So.”

He lifted his shirt, twisting it to release some of the rainwater. “Just look out for bats, Liam.”

I didn’t care. “Hey, as long as it's dry and gets us outta the rain I'm good.”

He gave me an annoyed look. “Still, be on alert.”

We crept inside slowly and… What the fuck!? This wasn’t a cave. Where were we now? I squatted a few bugs out of my face and looked at Mark who was doing the same.

He shook his head, then snapped his fingers like he was trying to use his powers only to find they still weren’t working. “Liam?”

I tried to call out to my fire but came up short. I took a deep breath, panic growing by the second.

My fire was like another limb. I depended on it for everything. To lose it was like losing a part of my brain, my soul.

Mark looked around. “We’re in the jungle now. Are you sure we didn't take acid or some shit?”

I couldn't breathe. I literally could not breathe. We were not in a cave. In fact, we were no longer at the beach at all. Waist-high grass and weeds surrounded us. I bent over, hands on my thighs, trying to catch my breath.

Mark looked disgusted but fuck him. This was some next-level shit right here.

“We need to use our brains, follow our instincts,” he said, eyes searching like he was looking for clues.

I straightened back up and nodded. I could do that.

Mosquitoes and other insects flew in my face every few seconds, but I swatted them away and kept going.

“No more doors,” Mark said.

I had to agree. “Or doorways.”

The farther we walked, the thinner the weeds became and the less mosquitoes we saw. Finally, we came to a small clearing. The first thing I saw was a red jeep sitting on what looked like forty-inch wheels. The doors were thrown open and the keys were in the ignition.

I perked up. “It's not a cave and we don't have to close the doors to drive it.”

The skeptical look on Mark’s face brought me up short. “What?” I asked.

He gave the jeep a wry look. “It’s mighty convenient. Do you really trust this?”

I swallowed hard. Why did it feel like he was judging me, accessing my intelligence? Well, neither of us were too smart right now.

I pointed at the jeep. “What the fuck do you suggest we do then, Mark? The doors are open. We don't have to close them. All we have to do is drive.”

He fingered the earring in his ear. “We don’t have other options. Let’s go.”

We hopped inside, and of course, we were no longer sitting in a jeep. Of course not. Now, we were thigh-deep in ice and snow.

I patted my pockets, looking for the drugs. Had we taken acid after all? But… Oh hell! Why not snow and ice? Everything was fucked anyway.

I reached for my fire, only to find it still wasn’t there. I felt a small part of me die in that moment. Where the fuck was my fire?

Mark rotated his right hand. Nothing happened. “No powers?” I asked.

He shook his head, then checked out our surroundings.

I pulled my coat tighter around me. It was so fucking cold. My clothes felt stiff, frozen.

Now would be a perfect time for a nice fire. Too bad I was no longer capable of making that happen.

“We'll freeze to death at this rate.” I sounded pathetic, but I wanted to make sure he understood the realities of our situation.

He started to walk. “I won’t.” I followed him.

Our steps were slow and torturous. We could generate heat off each other. Mark must have had the same idea. He reached out, hand wrapping around my waist, pulling me close.

I stiffened, startled at first. But any emotions I felt were pushed down. Now wasn’t the time. Mark held me tightly. It was probably our combined efforts that kept us upright.

I’d had enough. “I don't give a damn what kind of door we come to. We're going through that motherfucker. Anything’s better than this,” I said.

Mark didn’t disagree. “We’ll have to find one first.”

It took us three minutes, but a small house with smoke rising from the chimney finally appeared in front of us.

I looked at Mark. “Are we doing this?”

“Would you rather freeze?”

“Okay, we're doing this.”

The front door was open. Mark and I walked inside. Warmth hit my skin, going all the way to my bones. This house had a fireplace. I tried to hide it, but hope flared in my chest. Maybe this fire would ignite my flame.

I reached out to it. Nothing. I tried again and again. Damnit! I couldn’t connect. I needed to search for clues. Something told me this place held answers.  

Two couches sat in the living room. Both had thick blankets thrown across them. They looked inviting, but I wouldn’t be fooled that easily. Who knew, my fingers might fall off if I touched anything in here.

The smell of roasted beef and vegetables hit my nose and I turned longingly toward the kitchen.

I was shocked we’d actually walked inside the house. I looked at Mark. “Are you as freaked as I am?”

Mark eyed the warm, cozy house. “A door that actually leads where it's supposed to.” Suspicion filled his eyes. “Must be a catch.”

“I understand your distrust. You've been through a lot tonight,” a voice behind us said.

We both whipped around. A man walked into the room. He seemed to come from the kitchen. He was tall with brown hair and broad shoulders. He looked at us like we were chess pieces to be moved around at his will.

He pointed to the couches. “Please, have a seat.”

Mark gave the man a calculating glance. He’d probably come to the same conclusion I had. This man was the cause of all our misery.

Mark’s eyes went to the couch closest to him. “Maybe later. What do you want?”

Brown Hair brought a black mug to his lips and took a sip. “Why, your lives of course.”

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