Magic Trials (Half-Blood Academy #1)

A dark, voracious light flashed through his bright golden eyes.

So I smiled at him, sending him a signal that I could be nice, too, if he wanted to be friendly.

It must’ve worked because he didn’t strike me but met my gaze as if I were the only person in the world. Then his eyes roamed my every inch.

That cherishing gaze made me so hot I nearly purred like a kitten being scratched under her chin. A current of electricity sparked between us, and pleasure buzzed over my skin.

Was that what people called chemistry?

The demigod stalked closer, his hands stuck in his pockets to show how harmless he was. That gesture wouldn’t fool me. He could attack with a thought. I knew how dangerous he still was.

I prickled at his proximity, and dread seeped through my body.

Automatically, my knuckles went white on the hilt of my spear, and my other hand moved toward my gun, the cold metal a comfort against my warm fingers.

A challenge rose in his vicious, yet sexy eyes. Contrary to how I’d handled the other hooligans, I wouldn’t be foolish enough to attack a demigod first. You couldn’t kill a godly creature with a bullet or even dark magic.

And I didn’t want to kill him. I wanted to do something else to him.

I reined in my wanton thoughts.

A hot ember sparked like dragon fire in the demigod’s eyes. He enjoyed making me nervous, savoring my carnal reactions to his presence. But I didn’t intend to show him anymore weakness, including this sudden, absurd lust.

I held my chin high.

He strolled around me, intentionally, just to get another reaction out of me or simply to annoy me. I wheeled accordingly, staring him in the eyes, never showing him my back.

“Which demigod are you?” I demanded.

I knew currently there were four demigods ruling half of the Earth, but I didn’t know who this one was.

Instead of answering, he cocked his head to the side and sniffed me.

“Hey!” I shouted. I considered that an insult. I wasn’t to be sniffed. I’d hunted in the forest today. I’d run from the demon. I’d fought werewolves and gangs. So naturally, I smelled sweaty. I’d intended to take a shower after the market visit, but my plans had been interrupted by all these uninvited interactions.

His gaze brightened like the stars, and in the reflection of his golden eyes, I saw mine also light up. But I didn’t like the way he drew me to his flame. I didn’t like losing control, and this demigod was making me nuts.

“We’re law-abiding citizens, mister,” I said, sweeping my spear until its head pointed right at the werewolves. “You won’t take any member of my coven, but you’re more than welcome to round up those up-to-no-good scumbags. They should fight the demons in the frontier at your Dominions’ command instead of harassing innocent small-town people.”

The surviving werewolves snarled their disagreement, but stopped at the Dominion soldiers’ hisses. They were the biggest asses now.

“They’re too old,” the Dominion lieutenant said. “Only the teenage wolf and witch will be enrolled into the Academy. We came for them, so I suggest you step aside if you don’t want any more trouble.”

I wasn’t crazy about his suggestion, so the lieutenant and I traded words, despite everyone gasping at the abusive heat and violent threats in the exchange, until the demigod intervened again.

“I’ll spare your friends under one condition,” he said with a bright, sexy, yet cruel smile, and my stupid heart fluttered.

I wasn’t completely immune to him. After all, I was a human.

I leaned closer to hear his proposal. I would give him a chance to prove that not all demigods were inflexible tyrants who loved to stick absurd rules up their arrogant asses.

Dark pleasure flashed in his eyes, and he sniffed me again. I didn’t draw back from him right away, despite my erratic heartbeat that warned me not to get too close or I’d get burned.

It seemed I had an effect on him, too. If my scent could muddle his mind, so be it.

But I didn’t expect his scent of male, demigod, and sex to slam into my nostrils so potently. My mind went blank for a second.

I rectified my mistake by putting distance between us.

This wasn’t the time to get screwed. I had two underage charges to protect.

I arched an eyebrow to show him that I’d walk if I didn’t like the deal.

“And what is your condition, demigod?” I asked carefully.

“You go in their places, Marigold,” the demigod purred.





CHAPTER 3




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“Absolutely not!” Circe and Jasper jumped up from kneeling as if they’d just woken from a bad dream.

“It’ll be the death of you, Marigold,” Jasper objected fiercely. He had shifted back to a teenage boy and put on his tattered trousers. “You know that only those who have strong gods’ blood in them can survive the trial in the Half-Blood Academy. Don’t do this. We’ll just go with them. It’s no big deal.”

It was a big deal. They were still too young to understand what they would walk into.

“Don’t throw away your life for us, Marigold.” Circe nodded. “We’ll go with them. We aren’t your responsibility anymore.”

My heart sank; she sounded like she actually wanted to go. The way she gazed upon the demigod was like a teenager with a crush on her idol. But I’d thought she was into Jasper. My witch friend could be a bit fickle.

The demigod gave my team a stern look of warning, and both Circe and Jasper recoiled.

Jasper’s opposition resonated with me. I wasn’t as big a fool as the demigod thought.

“I won’t go with you,” I said, fixing my stare on the demigod. “I’m merely a human. I’m nothing special, so I won’t survive the trial. You don’t want my death on your conscience and my blood on your hands.”

I paused for a second, not sure if he had a conscience. As one of the demigods who commanded Earth’s war, I doubted he’d mind one more drop of blood on his hands. But I had to try to make him see reason. Maybe he would have a soft heart today.

“As you can see, my teammates are but an ordinary shifter and a mediocre witch,” I offered. I had to hurt their feelings now and explain later. “I’ve lived with them for three years. I swear that they don’t have gods’ blood in their veins. If you force them to go through the trial, they’ll die, too.” The demigod leaned closer to me to listen, so I batted my eyelashes. “Man, please just let us go and take the punk werewolves with you. I’ll be forever grateful. To show my gratitude, I’ll send you a postcard every Christmas. And may God bless you.”

So, yeah, we didn’t celebrate Christmas anymore, but I’d given him my word, so I wouldn’t correct it.

“The Half-Blood Academy is only for the descendants of the gods,” the lieutenant cut in harshly. “It’s a privilege to even be summoned. Your friends won’t have a chance to get near the main campus. They’ll go to the Other Academy, where supernaturals attend. There’s no trial for non-descendants. When they graduate, they’ll assist the Dominions.” He eyed me, flashing a vengeful smirk. “As for you, if you go in their places, you won’t be enrolled to the Other Academy. You’ll take the magic trial in the Half-Blood Academy.”

“Enough, Cameron,” the demigod hissed.

He didn’t want me to back out, and the Dominions couldn’t force a human to take the Trial of the Blood Runes, which was solely reserved for the special race.

“I apologize for speaking out of turn, Demigod Axel,” Cameron said.

My heart skipped a beat. So the demigod was the son of the bloodthirsty God of War. He must be bloodthirsty, too.

Was that why he wanted me in the Academy, to watch the blood runes bleed me dry?

“Your choice, Marigold,” Axel said, my name rolling off his tongue sensually.

So I tossed out my last card.

“One technical problem, though,” I said, raising a finger to emphasize my statement. “Your second-in-charge said those rogue werewolves are too old to attend the Academy. All three of us are too old for your school as well.”

“How old are you?” he asked, considering me curiously, as if age was a big, inconvenient factor he could be swayed by.

Hope sparked in me. I lifted my chin. “I might look young, but I’m going on thirty. My friends are only a year or two younger. We’re all heading to middle age soon. Very soon.”

The lieutenant chuckled. “Nice try.”

Axel nodded at me in approval. “That’s the perfect age.”

“What?” I cried, widening my eyes in dismay. “You’re a demigod. You’re an immortal. You don’t understand that for a human, thirty is considered old, at least too old for any academy!”

“No more excuses, Marigold,” Axel said firmly, his formerly amiable demeanor gone. “We’ve wasted enough time here. You’re going with us.”

Cameron snickered in unforgiving glee.

I’d booted him in the chest, and now he wanted to see my agonizing death in the trial.

~

The Dominions were going to get the deal of buy-one-get-two-free.

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