Black Magic Friday, стр. 1

 Black Magic Friday

E. J. Frost

 Black Magic Friday

 Copyright 2014 by E. J. Frost

www.ejfrost.com

All rights reserved.

Cover art by JCCJ756 on DeviantArt.com

Model courtesy of faestock

www.faestock.deviantart.com

ISBN-13:

978-1505786651

ISBN-10:

1505786657

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a

retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the written permission of the author.

Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable for criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other electronic means without the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law. By purchasing an authorized electronic edition, you are supporting the author’s rights. Thank you!

Filene’s Basement, the day after Thanksgiving. I must have been out of my mind letting Lin drag me here.

I tug against her insistent pull on my wrist. “Ease up, Linnie.” I have to shout to make myself heard over the roar of the crowd.

“We might miss something!” she shouts back and continues to drag me through the throng filling the Basement’s massive shopping floor. Lin shops like other people invade South-American countries. Although she won’t admit it, I’m sure she has a battle-plan for the invasion. Complete with floor plans, and probably color-coded.

She finally halts the charge, goes up on her toes, and scans the many, many heads in front of us. “There!”

Somehow, she spots an opening in the crowd and squeezes into it, pulling me after her.

Between elbows and overstuffed shopping bags, we reach Lin’s objective: a huge bin of FieldFair towels. All marked down fifty percent. Okay, I like fluffy Egyptian cotton towels, too. And the mark-down is the only way I’d ever be able to afford FieldFair. I have to give Lin points: she can hunt out a bargain like no one I’ve ever met. I lean over and rummage through the bin with her, trying to find towels that aren’t puke green or violent pink, and trying to avoid the extremely sharp nails of the woman next to me. Digging down, I find two sets still bound together with ribbon. They’re a nice medium blue, which will work in my bathroom and Lin’s guest bath.

I’m pulling them out of the bin when the woman next to me drags her freaking stilettos across the back of my hand. Her acrylic nails, which she must have just sharpened, actually draw blood.

I pull my hand out of the bin to avoid staining the nice towels, and turn my head to look at her. She gives me a nasty, dare-you kind of stare as she makes a grab for the towels.

With my bleeding hand, I reach up and pull down the sunglasses I’m wearing. Indoors, in November.

Stiletto Girl takes one look at my eyes and stumbles back a step. Her glossy pink mouth works but no sound comes out.

I hand Lin the towels. She stuffs them in the jute shopping bag she’s carrying without comment. Lin’s seen what’s behind my sunglasses.

“You need a bandage?” Lin asks.

I swear, I wouldn’t be surprised if she brought some. She’s planned for a frontal assault after all.

“No,” I say. I lick the back of my hand, push a little power into the scratches with my tongue, and wipe off the blood and saliva on my jeans. They’re black so the fluids won’t show. Like everything I wear now.

“C’mon!” Lin grabs my wrist and drags me towards the next objective. Designer handbags marked down forty percent. The discount still isn’t enough to tempt me, not at those prices, so I let Lin take point and hold the jute bag for her as she snatches a trophy from the fray: a Saaxi clutch in fire-engine red. Very Lin. As she retreats, a store employee, pushing a rack of suits, bumps into her.

Lin reels away, clutching her side. It didn’t look like an especially hard hit. Puzzled, I put my arm around her to protect her from the crowd as she bends over, hands to her knees, and tries to get her wind back.

“You okay?” I put my mouth to her ear so I don’t have to shout.

She nods, but remains bent over, her back heaving.

I straighten up and look for the store employee. He’s about to have a nice case of swine flu for Christmas. But he’s disappeared in the mayhem. “Is it just me or does this seem awfully full-contact?” I shout to Lin over the dull roar.

“It is Black Friday,” Lin says, straightening up and wiping her eyes. “We should have worn body armor.”

Or people-repelling charms. If I’d known it was going to be this bad, I’d have draped both of us in them.

Feeling stupid and a little helpless, I follow Lin to the next field of battle – Bath and Body – where Lin takes an elbow to the cheek while scoring an Alexandroff for Men gift set. I drag her out of the bedlam to the relative shelter of a huge mirrored column. She’s got a bright red mark that could turn into a black eye. Licking it will probably get me arrested for public indecency – and it will gross-out Lin – so I lean close and breathe on it.

Lin snorts and waves her hand in front of her face. “Coffee-breath,” she complains.

I ignore her and examine her cheek. The red mark has faded to a light puce. Probably the best I can do here in public.

“I want to go,” I tell her. This place is a madhouse, and the shopping frenzy is making even the deepest discount unappealing.

She pulls free of my hands. “No way! We haven’t even hit the Vault yet.”

Sounds like a heist. I roll my eyes, but follow her as she heads for the escalators.

As we leave the shelter of the column, movement catches my eye. Not the shoppers swirling around us. Not the bright

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