Excerpt from Unearthly Magik
You asked for it, so here's a scene from the book.
The subway ride home was blissfully silent by Manhattan standards, and I closed my eyes until the familiar robotic voice announced my stop, Astor Place. Yawning, I pushed my way through the early wave of morning commuters descending into the station and took a deep breath as soon as I reached the surface. Fresh air, or as fresh as Manhattan air right outside a subway station got, hit my face. The weather was typical New York City weather, hot and muggy with a chance of rain.
I skipped Starbucks and descended into the Village, the swanky neighborhood where I lived and worked. Students from New York University and Cooper Union trudged their feet into the infinite number of academic buildings in the area as I drug my feet toward home. Until a few hours ago, the tuition for just one student was more than I’d made in the last year. It sucked.
Washington Square Park was up and running earlier than usual. The local drug dealer, a pale, white man with yellowing teeth and blonde dreads, winked at me.
“You’re Lucas’s friend, right?” he called out.
Damn Lucas. One of my two best friends and a third of my detective agency, Lucas Ortega, mingled with Ordinaries more than the rest of us. Of course, he knew this drug dealer, just like he knew the one at the basketball courts on West Fourth Street.
“Maybe,” I replied, then yawned widely. “Long night, early morning. See ya.”
He laughed to himself as he returned to his client. “Tell him Rick says what’s up.”
“Got it.” I stuffed my hands in my pockets, picked up my stride, and steadily ignored eye contact with entirely too many peppy students walking toward me. Who the hell took classes at six in the morning? These overachievers, that was who.
My stomach growled audibly. I stuffed an energy bar down my throat sometime yesterday afternoon, but I’d been running on coffee since then. As I crossed the street that divided the busy, commercial area from the quieter parts of the neighborhood, a man opened the security gate on his store, my favorite local bodega.
Sleep could wait.
I walked inside as soon as the man unlocked the door. Ordinaries be damned, I zoned in on the fat, black cat sitting on top of a stack of crates of beans. Like many across the city, he was a bodega cat, a familiar to unknowing Ordinaries, in this case, the owner and his family. He opened a lazy eye when I scratched behind his silky ears. “Hola, mi gordito. You’re so cute.”
“You say hi to the cat first?” said a man in his twenties from behind the plexiglass counter. “That’s messed up.”
“Hola, cariñito,” I cooed then blew him a kiss.
He smirked. “What do you need?”
“Café con leche and a chopped cheese sandwich, por favor.” I requested the meaty, cheesy, greasy sandwich because I needed comfort food. It was a staple of New York City bodegas and was allegedly the most popular meal any time of day.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a man I didn’t recognize staring at me through the open door. Tall, blonde, fairly good-looking. Good posture and the limberness of someone ready to move. He stared at me with amusement and slid his hands into the pockets of his well-fitting jeans. He wore a plain, navy-blue t-shirt that showed off his physique, and I appreciated that, but he was totally and utterly bland.
The man jutted his head and indicated that I should walk toward him.
“Yo,” said Enrique from behind the counter. “Here’s your food.”
I reached into my left pocket and pulled out a wrinkled five-dollar bill then snatched up my coffee and sandwich. I might have been curious, but I was positive my glucose levels would tank soon enough. “Thanks. Tomorrow?”
“Same time, same place.”
I walked toward the blond man, and as I reached the threshold, he disappeared in front of me.
What the fu…
I could camouflage myself to make myself mostly invisible with a little help from my friends, but that kind of poofing out of sight meant he was packing some major magikal power.
Keeping my head on a swivel, I hurried down the residential street where I lived. If he could disappear, he could also probably pop up in front of me.