CHAPTER 1 Brooklyn Boy

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"Protect the binding, protect the magic . . . !" Her voice faded out under the sounds of my pounding pulse.

It took several blocks to regain my composure in flight, the air current pushing down beneath me at an unnatural speed thanks to my magical boost.

Next on my route usually came the abandoned brothel, but tonight I skipped it, feeling the need to put a little more distance between me and Ritha Borges.

What the hell was she talking about? Supernatural crime? Could more vamps have arrived in town? Or maybe I was just thinking about vampires because I'd arrived at the convent.

Ironically, the Catholic property was under the protection spells of my family, because Susannah Norwood Bowen had lived here in 1728—so it always got more than a flyby. I circled the perimeter, checking out each one of the window shutters, which were secured with a thousand antique nails and Adele's family magic, then I swooped over the roof and around the attic, where the vamps were trapped. The original four: Gabriel Medici; his two vamp-spawn, Lisette and Martine; and his sister, Giovanna. And, of course, the two bonus vamps we captured when we reinstated the curse, the biggest assholes of the lot: Emilio and Niccolò.

"Dammit!" I yelled, jerking back to human form about thirty seconds before I'd meant to, tumbling the last four feet to the roof.

I got up and shook it off, cursing all the more.

Stop letting that bloodsucking, leather-jacket-wearing asshole get under your skin.

I paced the length of the roof. Whenever I thought about Nicco, it was harder to control my magic, and nothing pissed me off more than losing control of my magic.

Nothing other than Nicco.

I paused, fishing a small metal object out of my wallet; I flipped it into the air with a casualness that contradicted the precious way I kept it hidden. With a quick whip, I caught it and continued to pace.

I flicked it up again, almost hoping a strong gust would take it away, relieving me of all responsibility. Of course, I didn't really wish for that; otherwise I'd have conjured up a gust and spun it all the way up to the Arctic.

I had no idea what it was, but Nicco must have given it to Adele on Halloween night before he threw her out the attic window, because she'd been holding it when I caught her. I was pretty sure she didn't remember ever having it.

It was just smaller than my palm and resembled origami made of folded metal—pewter, maybe? On the smooth side, three interlocking circles had been etched, each with a triangular peak, so they looked like three diamond rings. Something about it was romantic, which annoyed me even more. Leaving behind tokens had not been part of our plan. Then again, I don't think ending up in the attic had been part of Nicco's plan either. He must have known it was a possibility though if he'd thought ahead enough to bring this stupid thing. I had the sneaking suspicion that whatever it was, it was his ticket to getting out of the attic. His insurance plan.

Dammit.

The thought of Nicco being one step ahead pissed me off the most. I hated that he'd been the one to come up with the plan—that he'd insisted Adele would risk her own freedom to save everyone else. "If it comes down to it," he'd said, "I'll throw her to safety, and you have to catch her." Then he told me what he'd do to me if I failed to catch her.

He was right about needing the plan. Only, I can't imagine that me ending up with Adele, and with this thing, was exactly what he had in mind.

I swallowed a laugh. It's not funny, Isaac. I hated it. It was the only secret I had from her.

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