Trial by Fire [Covencraft Series]

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Chapter 1

As it turned out, becoming suddenly pyrokinetic wasn’t as awesome as Jade would have thought.

In fact, it was pretty inconvenient.

She grabbed the fire extinguisher off the wall and liberally sprayed the ugly Formica countertop. She wasn’t fast enough and the building’s automatic sensors were already triggered, setting off a floor-wide alarm. Her coworkers crammed into the kitchen behind her - curious and already gossiping about the fire. They started pressing into the room like cattle, crowding into her personal space.

With an unspoken groan, she inched forward, preferring to be closer to the smoky, charred remains of the countertop rather than be jostled and bumped by gawkers. Questions, speculations, and a few hushed murmurs were directed at her. Jade just shrugged and said she came in and found the counter on fire.

What was she supposed to say? I was thinking it was a hideous countertop and I’m pretty sure I set it on fire with my mind. Oops.

It was her fourth fire this week.

Jade hadn’t even been angry this time. She’d just been bored, distracted. Maybe a bit impatient with the coffee machine. She just glanced down at the counter top and thought, that needs to burn - it’s so ugly.

And then it was on fire.

“Bet we have to shut down today due to smoke inhalation.”

She tipped her head slightly backward, over her shoulder, toward the voice. Francis was part of Technical Services and sat two cubicles over from her. She pictured him stretching his meager height up on his tiptoes so he could whisper in her ear.

“You gonna round up of the rest of the brainiacs and go for laser tag?” she asked back, keeping her voice low. She didn’t know why she bothered as the rest of their floor was too busy chatting to each other to listen to them.

“If I can round them up on such short notice. It’s Tuesday. Half-price. Wanna come?”

She flicked her grey eyes back toward him and shrugged. “Maybe next time.”

He popped back down onto his feet and gave her a dorky smirk. “One day you’re going tosay yes, Jade.”

“You get that from the eightball on your desk?” Jade replied with a half-smile of her own.

“Statistical probability. I’ve run the numbers. You can’t say no forever.”

She laughed. “I’d like to see those numbers.”

Building Security and Maintenance arrived and herded everyone out of the kitchen, sending Jade and Francis meandering back to their cubicles. Instead of sitting down, she prairie- dogged on the divider hanging over the half wall that separated her cube from Francis. They chatted about inconsequential stuff - the latest episode of the sci-fi show they both watched, how the coffee shop downstairs had switched coffee and neither one of them liked it now, the new software upgrade that had so many glitches it was a miracle they could get any work done. She was more than aware that the rest of the office found their friendship bizarre. The hunched over mousy tech was pretty much her opposite in every way. He was plump, she was lean. He had messy hair, hers was always secured in a sleek ponytail. His brown eyes darted around when he talked, and her steady gaze made people stutter when they didn’t mean to. He was meek and she was about as subtle as a hungry bear in a campsite full of barbecue.

But she liked him. Francis was safe.

And he ended up being right; the day was shot. Not three minutes later, HR announced they were shutting the floor down until they could get Risk Management in to survey the damage and Building Maintenance to estimate the repairs.

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