Charms & Demons (The Dark Files #2) - Kim Richardson

1

A scream split the night air.

I scuffed to a halt, the hairs on the back of my neck rising.

The voice was female, young, and human, with a sound of such utter fear and insane terror that it made my stomach churn and my guts shake.

I was out on my routine patrol of the city, keeping tabs on any unruly demon sightings and standing ready to vanquish any stinking bastard that stepped through the Veil and crossed into our world to make meals of unsuspecting humans. Contracted by the dark witch court, it was my job to keep watch on any supernatural baddie that was up to no good. The pay wasn’t great, but it was enough to get by.

It had been a quiet night until now.

I didn’t have the luxury of time to decide on a course of action. When I didn’t move quickly, people got killed. I’d been too slow with Julia, the girl whose parents had hired me to find her, and now she was dead. Killed by a Greater demon, no less.

Shit. I wasn’t a great sprinter, nor did I have the physique of a seasoned athlete, but I dashed towards the scream, pushing my legs as fast as they would go with a spell forming in my head. My hatred for demons wrestled with my fear, fueling me with adrenaline and an extra burst of speed.

I despised them. I hated them to the very depth of my soul. And I was going to fry their asses.

The scream came from the direction of East 14th Street around the corner of 1st Avenue. I raced toward the dark alley squished between Moe’s Vegetarian Lounge and The Pizza Shop, away from the light—always away from the light. To a demon, light was like sticking its finger in the flames of a fire. It burned them immediately.

Why did I always find myself in dark, dirty alleys with the demon of the hour? Because that’s how exciting my life was. Yay for me.

My heart thrashed in my chest as I ran across E 14th Street just as another scream cut through the air. Cars whined into motion, tires squealed and loud shouts were hurled from drivers as I maneuvered between them, the pounding of my heart loud over the revving engines.

“Watch it!” cried a voice.

“Idiot!”

“Crazy bitch!” shouted a driver from a gray SUV as its engine sputtered and caught, its wheels spinning on the pavement.

Smiling, I flipped him the bird and kept running.

Humans. Such an angry race.

Breathing hard, I leaped onto the sidewalk, zigzagged through a couple of humans in their mid-thirties and rushed towards the alley. If the humans had heard the scream, I saw no indication. Papers and plastic bags rattled and scraped over the streets in a sudden breeze, and the leaves in the trees rustled and sighed in the wind.

I reached the entrance to the alley, slipped through an opening in the chain link fence, and darted between several empty cardboard boxes and metal garbage bins. The air smelled of beer, piss and rot—the aroma of a night out on the town. Excellent.

I blinked as darkness hit me and I slowed to a walk. The alley was cloaked in darkness like a giant drape had blocked all the light from the street and neighboring buildings.

There was only one explanation for that—magic. Demonic magic.

My breath came faster as I felt something wrong, unnatural. An uneasy feeling ran over me, cold prickling along the nape of my neck and up my spine. I stood there for a minute, frowning while contemplating whether I should pull out my chalk. But if