WOMAN OF BLOOD & BONE BONUS SCENE
The events of this bonus scene happen in the year-long break after Chapter 2 in Woman of Blood & Bone. You can see more of these events in the Phoenix Rising series, but they aren't from Max's POV.
“You have got to be shitting me,” I muttered pausing my tattoo machine to stare at my best friend. Aurelia Constantine was a perpetual pain in my ass, but she was the bestest person on the planet—even if she was an insufferable know-it-all. “This is what you want for your wedding present?”
I sat back from her outstretched leg and kneaded my poor muscles. Aurelia just stared back at me with her pale pupilless gaze, and I seriously contemplated checking her head for fever. It was bad enough I couldn’t go to her wedding, but now this? “Instead of the awesome Le Creuset bakeware set I have picked out, you want me to drive to Tennessee and protect your cousin? Who is in a coma. Who is supposed to wake up any second. From angry werewolves?”
“Shifters,” she corrected. “But, yes. Essentially.”
This is what I got for having a psychic phoenix as a best friend. By phoenix, I mean the fiery kind with wings and everything, and the psychic thing was self-explanatory.
Did she have a good reason for asking me to haul myself to the ass end of Tennessee? Probably.
Did I want to help her? Absolutely.
Did I want to do a favor for Nicola? Not really.
But I would because I owed Aurelia Constantine. Big time.
Not only had she saved my bacon when we first met, but my antics—or really a spell I’d done for her—had some unintended side effects that nearly got her and her babies killed. She was owed a twofer, and I was going to pay up.
“You know how I feel about your cousin, Ari. Weren’t you the one who told me about…”
Aurelia waved at the air like she was wiping away my coming words. I doubted she wanted to rehash the whole drama that got her and her husband together, and I didn’t blame her.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know what I said, but she saved our ass, Max. Like big time. I can’t let her hang out to dry even if she has her unofficial doctorate in bitchdom.” Aurelia’s lips twisted to the side like she was trying to stave off tears. “I don’t have a lot of family left.”
Family. Pfft. Family to me was a four-letter word. So far—except for my little sister, Maria—every member of my family either left me to rot, let me get burned at the stake, or abandoned me.
But Aurelia needed my help, and insofar, she had never asked for help from me ever. Even though she damn well knew I could—and would—lay down my life for her tiny ass.
“Fine,” I huffed, bending back to her tattoo and trying not to think of all the ways this could go sideways. “What am I walking into?”
I was an idiot.
After too long of a drive and not enough road snacks to sustain me, I arrived from Denver to Knoxville thirty minutes before Aurelia’s decreed time. She was very precise about the time, and demanded that if I was late, I’d have a much bigger problem on my hands and probably a pair of dead bodies to deal with. As a psychic who very rarely got things wrong, I figured it was in my best interest to listen to her.
My cherry red Chevelle stood out like a sore thumb just as much as I did, which was a problem since I should probably have thought to blend in a little bit. This wasn’t Denver, and my blue hair, tattoos, and general attire made it so I might as well have stapled a target to my ass.
And that was before I was supposed to just walk inside a supernatural hospital like I wasn’t a certified rogue.
The thing about being a rogue witch is that I was not welcome. Anywhere. Not in witch shops, not in witch hospitals, not in certain parts of town. Add in the fact that my magic is wonky as fuck, I’m nearly four hundred years old, and my mom is a bigwig in the community, and well… It’s not like I can just waltz around unnoticed.
There was a damn good reason why I picked other misfits to hang around. Why I stuck to the human side of town, and why I avoided places where blood had been spilled. Whole cities were off the list for me. Savannah, New Orleans, and fucking Knoxville being at the tippy top of the list.
I really should have thought to glamour myself, but other than getting here at the prescribed hour, I hadn’t put too much thought into what I was doing or where I was going.
Hence the reason I was an idiot of the highest order. Really, there should be an award or something.
Stomping down my anxiety, I parked in the spot Aurelia instructed and cut the engine. The downside to being a rogue is that I can’t go many places. The upside to being me is they can’t exactly keep me out. There isn’t a ward on this planet that can’t be cracked—except for mine—and the one around this hospital pretty much waved me in with no issues. The pack of wolves surrounding the ward, though, might be a problem.
What had Aurelia said again?
Oh, that’s right. If I didn’t get my ass there on time, there would be two dead bodies to worry about. Yeah, that sounded less than ideal.
Snapping my fingers, I muttered a “don’t see me” spell concentrating on myself and Nicola. It was bad enough I was supposed to figure out a way to get Aurelia’s cousin out of this hospital undetected. It was going to be even worse trying to pry her off the wraith behemoth who’d decided to attach himself to her side.
Climbing out of my car, I slammed the door and “locked” it. More like I snapped my fingers and my anti-theft working went into effect. I was rather proud of my no-touch spells. They were rather lethal to the wrong people.
As fast as I could, I stalked into the hospital, taking the first stairwell on the left just like Aurelia told me to. Hiking up to the ninth floor was no small feat in my heels, but right on cue, a tiny red-headed woman burst from the hall into the stairwell. Still staring at a point behind her she didn’t even see me until I latched onto her arm and spun her around.
Nicola stared at me for a moment dumbstruck. I tended to get that reaction a lot, so I didn’t take any offense. Instead, I thrust out a hand. “Hi, my name is Max. Your cousin called in a favor. I’m here to save your ass.”
Her dumbstruck-ness continued, a frown marring her pale face like a cracked porcelain doll. “Cousin? I have family?”
Oh, boy. Aurelia hadn’t been kidding when she said Nicola didn’t remember anything.
“Yeah. You do. Aurelia’s on her honeymoon with her hunky hubby and their kiddos, otherwise she’d be here herself. She called yesterday and I hauled my ass here from Denver to come get you. She said you had a wolf problem. Do you…” I trailed off because Nicola looks like she is about a millisecond away from losing her ever loving shit, and an aggravated phoenix is not a thing I would like on my hands. I’ve already been burned alive once and a repeat is not my intended way to go. “Are you okay?”
“I really wish people would stop asking me that when they bloody well know the answer,” Nicola growled, breaking into a full-on hissy fit. “No. No, I am not okay. I have zero memory, I had to figure out how to put clothes on like an infant, and my ‘husband’ is a big jerk whose life I have to save. I am a huge ball of not fucking okay.”
Fates, this girl really needed my help.
“Well, honey,” I cooed, wrapping an arm over her shoulder, “let’s get out of here and then you can tell Momma Max all about it.”
Nicola was mostly quiet, only muttering to herself here and there as we trekked down the stairs to the front entrance.
“Did my cousin tell you what the wolf problem was?” Nicola asked as I took surreptitious glances through the ER windows at the parking lot.
I didn’t even hesitate to answer her. “She sure did. She said Kyle was going to eat it and because he had been very naughty you were going to eat it too, so I had better haul ass to Knoxville, so you didn’t die.”
Nicola just blinked at me like I was talking gibberish.
What? I was as clear as I could possibly get.
“Is that all she told you?” she prompted, probably trying to get me to elaborate.
Nicola growled under her breath in a cute and slightly scary kind of way. “Care to elaborate?”
I snorted, remembering her instructions. “She said I was supposed to punch Kyle in the junk the next time I saw him for her.”
“Nope. That about covers it,” I quipped as we marched through the automatic doors toward the parking lot, not stopping or slowing down until we got to my car.
A snap of my fingers later, and my “no touch” spell was history, but that teensy-tiny flash of green? Well, it made Nicola’s eyebrows reach for the stratosphere.
“What? It’s more effective than an alarm.” With an indifferent shrug, I opened the driver side door and tossed her bag in the backseat of my baby.
With just the right amount of wonder, Nicola gestured to the awesomeness that was my car. “What is this?”
“A 1971 Chevy Chevelle SS.” My smile was evil enough to convey just how fast I was about to drive, but just in case she hadn’t figured out social cues… “Hold onto your tits, baby girl. I’m about to knock your socks off. Buckle up, buttercup. We need to haul ass.”
With a furtive glance at the rearview mirror, I put my baby in gear and peeled out of the parking lot, fishtailing through the narrow lane until we reached the main thoroughfare. With the right amount of magic and a decent level of luck it was possible we could get out of here unscathed.
Then again, the lights in the rearview weren’t exactly giving me the warm and fuzzies. And Nicola probably needed to know about them—not that it would do anything for the stress this woman was under.
“I need to tell you something,” I confessed, the reluctance in my voice doing nothing for the anxiety that filled the cabin.
Her brown gaze damn near bored a hole in my cheek. “What?”
To be honest or to not be honest? That was the question. “We may or may not have a car following us.”
Okay, that was straddling the line, but whatever.
“We may have a car following us?” she parroted back, that stare likely to set my whole head on fire.
“Okay, okay. We do have a car following us, and I will bet you all the money I own—which is a considerable amount—that it isn’t your husband.”
Because Kyle wouldn’t follow us in a car. Kyle Brennan would pop in the backseat of this car and rip the steering wheel off my baby with his bare hands.
“And why would you say that?” she asked, her voice surprisingly calm considering the circumstances.
“Because they’ve been following us since we left the hospital, and you have a wolf problem. Ergo, wolves are more than likely following us.”
“We’ve been driving for fifteen minutes, and you’re just now saying something?” she screeched.
“I didn’t want to worry you,” I replied with a shrug. This woman had enough on her plate. Without much in the way of prompting, I made a sharp turn of the wheel, cutting off two cars and an enormous truck to get to an exit on the freeway from the far-left lane.
We needed to get off this road and pronto.
“Well, that’s fucking comforting!” she yelled, scrambling for the “oh-shit” handle as I blew through a red light and made a sharp left turn that had the back wheels of the car fighting for purchase on the road. Soon, we were traveling down a pitch-black, two-lane road—the lights of the city far behind us.
“Do you think we lost them?” she whispered after a solid stretch of no lights behind us.
I shrugged and flipped the headlights off, gunning the engine in the darkness, earning a screech from Nicola.
“What are you doing?” Her hands frantically searched for something to hold onto.
“I’m trying to keep us both breathing. I can see in the dark. Problem is, so can they. I think I lost them back at the freeway, but it won’t hurt to go dark for a bit to make su—”
I didn’t even get to finish my sentence before blinding lights flash on in the oncoming lane—about two seconds before the enormous truck the lights are attached to slammed into the front end of my car.
I didn’t even have time to scream.
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Join in Max's next adventure and all the crazy, witchy shenanigans that is to come.
Daughter of Souls & Silence is next in the series, and I hope you’re buckled in to see Max contend with the Ethereal Council and deal with the bounty that may be too much for her to handle.