Every Friday until MAGIC ON THE HUNT is released (April 5th!) I’m going to post an excerpt or deleted scene from the Allie Beckstrom books.
Today’s scene was almost the beginning of MAGIC ON THE HUNT. It is the scene that happens directly after the end of MAGIC AT THE GATE. If you haven’t read MAGIC AT THE GATE, I’ll let you click away from the post because it’s about to get spoilery. Hope you have a great weekend, thanks for stopping by!!
All right, here’s the set up. At the end of MAGIC AT THE GATE, Allie and the members of the Authority are at the den with the Hounds, recovering from the battle. Zayvion walks into the bathroom after Allie has showered and they finally have a moment with each other that ends with a kiss. This is the unpublished (unedited, unrevised, etc.) scene for what happened next:
Zay and I didn’t even get a chance to turn on the shower before a knock on the door interrupted us.
I lifted my mouth away from Zayvion’s and he groaned in response.
“Go away,” I said.
Zay’s fingers dug a little too tightly into my hips, unwilling to let me go.
“Shower open?” Sid asked.
I pressed my head against Zay’s shoulder then, regretfully, pushed back. “In a minute.” I picked up my towel, wrapped it around me. Zay still wore his pants, though I’d managed to get his shirt off in the three and a half seconds of privacy we’d stolen.
He rubbed his hands over his face then across the back of his neck, staring at the floor.
I gathered up my clothes, even though they were filthy, and my cup of coffee that was half full. I intended to drink that while it was still hot.
“Come on in.” I held my towel in place with one hand and walked past Zay, then out the door, out past Sid who gave me a nod and a smile he could shove. I didn’t look to see if members of the Authority were still lingering–I didn’t have to. I could smell them, hear them, taste their magic on the air lingering with the familiar scents of the Hounds and the paint that hadn’t had much more than a couple weeks to dry.
I strolled past the open kitchen on the right, ignoring Davy, Sunny, ignoring food, coffee. Nothing but the door on my mind, nothing but privacy with Zayvion as my goal.
Zayvion hesitated before I opened the door, lingering on the other side of the threshold as if waiting my invitation. I shouldn’t be able to hear him, he was always so silent on his feet. But his footsteps were heavy, dragging, even though he was barefooted. He was hurt, exhausted, and barely a few hours alive.
I glanced over my shoulder. “This way.”
He followed, his hand gripping the door jam, steadying his steps, then out into the hall. I thought about the stairs. Didn’t think Zay could make it up another flight, so I opted for the elevator.
That’s how much I loved the guy.
“Allie,” he started.
The elevator pinged, and I clutched my clothes against me as if they could somehow protect me from the horror of that tiny space. I sucked in a shaky breath and forced myself to step into the box.
Zay stepped in with me and I caught a glimpse of someone looking out the den door. Davy Silvers, of course, checking to see where I was going, and with whom.
He raised his eyebrows and gave me a short nod, looking impressed at how I had somehow managed to squeeze into the stupid, tiny, airless elevator.
Then the door closed and all I wanted to do was scream.
“Allie.” Zay again.
I pressed my lips closed and shook my head, gaze riveted to the lights above the door. One floor, it was just one floor. How long did it take to grind up one stinking floor?
The elevator bounced to a stop. I exhaled and inhaled too loudly, too quickly. Almost a scream. Not quite a scream. Was gonna be a scream if the door didn’t open fast.
The door opened and there was light, space, air, did I mention air? and I was out into it as fast as my legs could take me.
The hall here was darker. The only light filtered in from a couple windows at either end, pale and dusting gold across the floor, against the wall.
I walked to the door, hit the keycode, and stepped into the empty loft space. Well, not quite empty. None of the windows had the blinds down, so sunlight stretched long rectangles across the softly burnished floor, catching in the nicks and chinks of wood and up the brick walls
The mattress I’d brought up here so I could sleep away from the Hounds if I needed to, was tucked in the corner of the room, my extra quilt and a couple new pillows strewn across it.
The undecorated kitchen had a coffee maker on the counter, a bag of Get Mugged beans next to it with a note that said “You’re welcome” in Davy’s loose script, and beneath that: “Food in fridge.”
Boy was going to make some girl really happy one day.
Zay shut the door, the quiet snap of the lock catching echoes in the big room.
I heard him walk across the room, each step too loud for that silent man, dragging in time with his breathing, which was, thankfully, even and very quiet. It was strange to have him follow me with little or no questions, strange to hear his exhaustion in the scuff and drag of his feet.
He’d just barely found his way back to the world of the living. If he was half as exhausted as I was, I didn’t know why either of us were still standing.
“Nice what you’ve done with the place,” he said.
I dropped my clothes in a pile next to the mattress and looked up at him.
He was smiling. “Took the less-is-more concept a little too far though.”
“Really? I’d think you’d be right at home.” I took a drink of my coffee, enjoying what was left of the heat. It was a colder here. I wondered if the radiators were on. Or it could be the damp bath towel and wet hair combo that was giving me the shivers. “No clutter, no dirt, nothing out of place. Neat, clean, uncomplicated. Heaven, right?”
He finished closing the distance between us and I watched how he moved. Tired, stiff, a catch on his left side that looked like his ankle or maybe knee had been damaged during the fight. He didn’t let any of that pain show on his face. Man might be down, but he wasn’t out.
Still, I saw too many ribs and too much shadow everywhere else.
“Might be,” he said. “Are you done staring at me like I’m a dog that’s been hit by a car?”
I should be embarrassed he’d caught me thinking just that very thing. But I’d been through death, he’d been through death. It sort of resets a person’s priorities.
This kind of honesty didn’t scare me any more.
“You look like you’re still hurting,” I said.
“I am.” He stopped in front of me, hands at his side, his t-shirt wadded in his left fist. “But that’s not going to last forever.”
“I know. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to worry about it.” I took the last drink of coffee and wished I had a pot or two more. “Do you need any painkillers? Or maybe the doctor? She’s still downstairs.” I walked over toward the counter to put my coffee cup down.
He caught my hand, stopping me. Then he very slowly slid his fingers between mine, forcing my fingers apart to make room for his. He pressed his hand against mine, his right hot against the strange coldness of my left, his palm hard against the numb, painful mark of magic–of death–Mikhale had planted under my skin.
“What I need,” he said quietly. “Is for you to stop walking away from me.”
He took that last half step, pressing his body against me and wrapping me in his embrace.
I folded against him, needing to feel the length of his body, warm, whole, alive against me. Needing to count his breaths and hear his heart beating strong. Needing him.
I squeezed his fingers gently. “Don’t let go,” I said.