Ink Magic (Ink Sorceress Chronicles)

Ink Magic


Erika Gilbert

Copyright 2012 Erika Gilbert
Cover Art by Dawn Dominique
This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without written permission from the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead or actual events is purely coincidental. The characters are products of the author's imagination and used fictitiously.




































Chapter One


In their strapless dresses, the girls at the party looked fit to walk down the red carpet of a Hollywood movie premiere. Whereas I, wearing a knee length dress with sleeves down to my elbows, may as well be on my way to church. I considered my best friend Carrie Gale, her short dress only just covering her underwear, with a petite frame that made her skimpy outfit seem somehow wholesome. I should hate her. But, she’s also one of those rare combinations, she’s beautiful and nice.

I showed a lot more skin than usual, but I may as well have worn a dressing gown. Even though I looked like a nun, I couldn’t risk showing more. Because of what I had to hide. The secret I couldn’t ever show the world.

Carrie hooked her flatteringly bare arm in mine and strode into the party. She waved to someone across the room and I followed her gaze across the sea of people, stopping on a tall, handsome boy who waved back enthusiastically.

As she deftly made her way through the crowd, I, at close to six feet, and far less agile, managed to injure people along the way, stepping on their feet and jabbing them with my elbows.

The first thing I noticed about her friend was his smile. It was hard to miss, considering the way he beamed at Carrie when we approached.

Nick, this is my best friend, Lucy Morgan. Lucy, this is Nick Wells.”

It was when he turned that hundred-watt smile on me that I fully appreciated its brilliance. It lit up his handsome face, making his light brown eyes shine.

The hand he held out to me looked large, which stupidly sent a shiver right through me.

Hi. It’s nice to meet you,” I said, taking his hand.

It’s really nice to meet you, Lucy.” He held on a bit longer than necessary, as if he really meant it, and I wasn’t about to complain. There was something warm and comforting about his grip.

My shoulder burned, a sharp, stabbing pain. A warning. The hot knives sliced across my arm.

I jerked my hand back.

Nick looked confused, and then slightly hurt. I hated being the one to wipe the smile from his face but I couldn’t help it. My tattoo had come alive. It snaked down my arm, threatening to move beyond my long sleeves.

Tattoos aren’t uncommon among teens; many of the girls present sported henna designs. Others showed real tattoos usually covered up at school. But I seriously doubted their body art randomly moved across their arms, and I thought Nick might notice the black ink making its way toward him.

I’ll go and get you girls a drink then, shall I?” Nick smiled, but it didn’t make his eyes shine.

Carrie grabbed my arm, pulling me close. “What’s your problem? Nick’s a nice guy. Most girls would die for the chance to date him.”

I couldn’t really concentrate on what Carrie said, the burn on my arm felt really strong. The word ‘date’ did manage to penetrate. “Who said anything about a date?”

I did. You haven’t been out with a boy in how many years?”

I shrugged noncommittally, not wanting to talk about why I could never get close to anyone. The tattoo had always been part of me. As a child it was a small mark, just a dark spot. But as I got older it grew bigger. Then it started to change.

You know I can’t let anyone see my tattoo,” I said. Boys tended to get frustrated with a girl who refused to show them more than just their ankles.

It hasn’t changed in four years.”

I nearly cried out as a stabbing pain shot across my arm. “Well, it’s changing right now.”

Oh?” She sounded like she didn’t believe me until her eyes lit on the tattoo snaking down my forearm. “Oh!”

Nick appeared again, bearing drinks. I frantically folded my arms.

Here you go.”

He handed me my drink and I tried not to read anything into the fact that I got mine before Carrie.

I got you a can, so you know nothing has been added,’ he said kindly.

He passed what I assumed was an alcoholic drink to my best friend.

Yep, not only did my outfit make me look frumpy, it marked me as some kind of a teetotaller. I tried to look grateful, despite the raging pain in my arm. I thanked him and popped the can open, even though I don’t usually drink fizzy drink, and would much prefer something with a bit of kick.

Sorry, Nick, I need to borrow Lucy.” She dragged me toward the crowd.

It’s a girl thing,” I said over my shoulder, and immediately regretted it. Boys probably don’t like girls with issues.

What’s it turning into?” Carrie whispered once she got me to the centre of the room. She had to talk loudly to be heard over the music and I feared people might hear.

I don’t know.” Considering it hurt so much wasn’t a good sign.

My tattoo changes when I’m near supernatural beings, especially beings that are evil or intend to cause harm.

I stared at my tattoo.

Um, Lucy.” Carrie pointed at my mouth. “There’s something....”

What? Is it food?” Mortified, I rubbed at my mouth. How long since I last ate?

No.” She cringed.

I felt around my mouth, stopping when I touched something sharp. “Fangs?” God. Fangs.

Oh yeah, something else happens to me when evil lurks nearby. I sometimes transform. The spell in my tattoo changes me into whatever it takes to combat evil creatures nearby.

Nick chose that moment to appear again, and I quickly covered my rapidly growing canines with my hand, pretending to cough.

He looked at me with concern, and all I could do was continue fake coughing, until I sounded like I had whooping cough.

Oh, hey. You left your drinks.”

I grabbed the paper cup, because it was bigger and also, I really needed a proper drink right now. I took a big sip, tipping my head back to keep my teeth covered. I meant to keep the cup just in front of my face, but when I brought it down it stayed.

Great. I’d impaled my teeth on my cup.

Nick gave me a strange look as I continued pretending to take big gulps and giving him the thumbs up. I probably looked like some kind of drunk. He walked away, looking mildly phased. Mysteriously appearing tattoos weren’t the only reason for my single status. I tend to be somewhat of an embarrassing klutz.

Well, at least he wouldn’t think of me as a goodie two shoes any more.

My arm stung, reminding me that something evil, with possibly murderous intentions, lurked nearby.

I scanned the room looking for signs of something nasty, straining my ears for sounds of fighting or screams. Everything sounded loud. People’s conversations deafened me, and strangely I was able to pick out the words people said from half way across the room.

Something caught my eye over by the stereo. Someone.

While the room pulsed with activity he stood statue still, barely even breathing.
I recognized him from school. Daniel Mills. The dark hair, his high boned features and exotic eyes hinted at an Asian lineage. The mix took my breath away.
Something told me he wasn’t human. May have been the fact that his eyes weren’t merely dark, they were so black it felt like looking into an abyss. The way he moved suddenly, faster than humans do, was a bit of a clue as well.

In fact, when he moved every one else froze in his wake as he strode towards me across the dance floor.

No . . . they didn’t freeze. He just moved so fast the people in the room appeared frozen. Except for me. Because I had turned into a vampire, and inhabited the strangely sped up world he currently moved through.

Something swirled at his sides, propelling him forward and it wasn’t until he slowed that I got a good look at it. He was swinging a sword as he moved.

He stopped a few feet in front of me. And time returned to normal. People bustled around us. Completely oblivious of the fact that this sword-swinging guy appeared in front of me so suddenly.

He opened his mouth to speak, and though I didn’t want to hear the sound, I leaned forward to listen, mesmerised by his dreadful, dark eyes.

Before I had a chance to act he sped across the room again, retracing his steps more quickly than even I could follow. Moments later a scream sounded from the direction he went in.

I moved toward the scream, pushing people aside more easily than usual. In fact, I didn’t even touch them; they sort of parted before me. In my haste to reach the screaming girl I’d used my new vampire powers to move them. Like a fierce cyclone, I managed to literally move the air around me without even trying to.

I stopped. People lay bruised at my feet, blood poured from one girl’s nose, but it was the fear in their eyes that worried me the most.

I forced myself to slow down, trying to reign in my new power.

People still moved out of the way, but not so dramatically. They just stepped aside before me. A few of them looked at me, glancing twice as if trying to figure out what was different about me. Probably didn’t help that there were wounded bodies all around me. The fangs sticking out of my mouth didn’t improve matters.

I forced my mouth closed. The teeth made my lips fuller, like I over did it with the collagen injections.

Something solid hit me, a guy, I noticed his eyes wide with fear. Instead of pushing me back he bounced straight off me. Blood poured from a wound in his neck. It looked bad. Like a major artery bleeding. I stepped toward him, wanting to help. But he backed up fearfully.

A deep growl came from somewhere, the sound of an angry predator. It filled me with fear, making the hairs leap up on my arms.

Then I realised the sound came from me. I froze. My fangs were out. I knew then that although I meant to help him, a part of me wanted to finish the job the other creature started.

He ran straight past me and I pressed myself against the wall, afraid of the desire to give chase. I thought about going after him, unsure if I meant to save him or kill him, until a cry of agony sounded ahead of me.

I ran toward the bathroom, leaving the guy to flee. Hopefully someone from the party would help him. For now, I had to stop the same thing from happening to someone else.

Inside the bathroom, Daniel had a girl backed up against the wall. Covered in cuts to the neck, somehow she’d managed to survive, but I didn’t know for how long.

Hey!” I shouted to get his attention before he slit her throat completely. “You want to cut someone your own size?”

So, given that the girl, Leeza Moon, was nearly as tall as I was and twice as wide, the comment didn’t make sense, but it had the desired effect. Daniel looked straight at me.

He dropped the girl and headed my way. Despite my long fangs, I suddenly felt less heroic. His sword looked much longer than my teeth, and I felt like a poodle facing up to a Rottweiler. He stepped closer, so we nearly touched.

For once in my life I came up to a boy’s chest. It sent a thrill of excitement through me, being this close to someone so powerful. Kind of an inappropriate reaction to have toward a creature that went about slicing people.

A college-aged girl came into the bathroom, meaning to use the toilet. When she saw the blood all over the floor she froze. Daniel did too. When she saw his bloody sword, she screamed.

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