Curses & Blood (The Dark Files #4) - Kim Richardson

CHAPTER 1

Blood pooled around the head, oozing from the single bullet hole pierced right in the middle of the man’s forehead. His eyes were wide and staring at the ceiling, his face pale with loss of blood. The air smelled of a mix of blood, concrete, and rotten eggs with a faint underlying scent of candy canes.

And something else lingered in the air, something almost beneath the threshold of my awareness. Something old and dark and deadly.

The dark energy and the wild magic of the fae.

Judging by the waxy, gray color of his skin, the blue on the tips of his fingers, and the pale lips, the body was still in the “fresh stage” and hadn’t begun the second stage of decomposition, which put his death around the six to twelve-hour mark.

Faeries were one of the other half-breed races that could conjure magic, apart from the elves and us witches. Though their magic was powerful and complex, it was wilder, more feral than ours, and closer to a demon’s magic if I had to make a comparison. And by the stirring of the energy still lingering in the air, this dead fae had a crapload of it.

With his limp brown hair going gray in uneven patches and his eyes touched with crow’s feet at the corners, I pegged the male faerie to be in his late fifties. But I could be off. Faeries didn’t age like the rest of us half-breeds. Lucky bastards. They tended to preserve better, their lives extending at least fifty years beyond that of a witch. Totally unfair.

Faeries weren’t my favorite half-breed race. I liked them as much as I liked a mosquito. But I did like the pointed ears. I always thought I’d look awesome with a pair of cute, pointy ears.

Pointy ear cuteness aside, clearly this was an execution. The faerie never stood a chance.

I moved around the body, but I couldn’t see any signs of a struggle. No defense wounds, no bruises on his skin. His hands were smooth and clean, like the hands of a banker or someone who handled paper and pushed the keys of a computer most of their lives while sitting in important chairs in important board meetings. His nails were short, neat, and clean. These were not the callused hands of a warrior fae.

Blood spatter stained the front of his gray robe in dark maroon blots. The spray pattern marked the source of the blood as coming only from the gunshot in his forehead, which killed him instantly. But this was no ordinary faerie. This faerie sat on the Gray Council, our paranormal government.

And I stood inside one of their many secret vaults.

“Who shot the faerie?” sang a voice in the tune of the Bob Marley song, “I Shot the Sheriff.”

I turned toward the sound of the singing.

Faris bobbed his shoulders to the beat in his head and sang on. “But they didn’t shoot the deputy.”

I rolled my eyes. Mid-demons. Can’t live with them. Can’t kill them.

Faris, a mid-demon from the Netherworld, was now my newest witch familiar. It was the only way we could keep him on this side of the world so he’d be safe—and alive. If Faris returned to his homeland, his entrails would be pulled out from his nose and mouth, as he’d so eloquently put it.

Tall and fit, he had a pleasant face and striking dark eyes framed with thick lashes over an olive complexion. Tonight, he wore his usual black shirt and matching black pants, finishing the look with some expensive-looking black shoes that I could practically see my reflection in.

Faris had a