Exclusive Excerpt from Darkling
by Brooklyn Ray
The loft above St. Maria’s Catholic Church was inhabited by a necromancer. Some people thought it was riddled with bones and corpses. Other witches thought they’d find skulls and black candles and cobwebs if they ventured inside. Most counted on the irony of the situation to mask the urban legend. A few dismissed it, thankful they’d never needed to knock on a necromancer’s door in search of assistance to begin with.
White witches who weren’t versed in dark magic thought it would swallow them whole if they even looked in its direction. But that wasn’t quite the case.
Ryder stood at the top of the steep, narrow staircase in front of a thick wooden door. His fist hovered inches from its surface, but before he mustered enough courage to knock, the door opened.
Jordan Wolfe shared Ryder’s sharp, fine features. Her cheekbones were prominent and her chin pointed. Her dark, sultry eyes were the same shape as his, tear-dropped and sad; sexy in a way that shouldn’t be, but still was. Except Jordan had Wolfe eyes—brown that was almost black, under gold that was almost yellow.
Ryder had his mother’s, Lewellyn eyes. They were canopy-leaf green, vibrant and startling in the light.
His Lewellyn eyes didn’t make him any less Wolfe, though. But no one needed to know that.
“What’re you doing here?” Jordan asked playfully. Her nose scrunched when she grinned, and she wrapped her arm around his shoulders to pull him into a hug. He’d forgotten how alike they sounded, raspy and graceless.
“I can’t come see my sister?” Ryder mumbled.
Jordan’s ashy blonde hair tickled his nose, swaying in loose curls over her shoulders. She smelled like lilies and blood. “You can, but you never do. What’s up? What’s going on?”
Ryder wanted to tell her, but everything lodged painfully in his throat. The reading. Liam. What it meant. If it even meant anything at all. His magic going nuclear more often than he was comfortable with. Him being a necromancer, but not. Him being a Fire witch, but not.
“Hey.” Jordan sounded sad. She brushed her knuckles across his cheeks. “Hey, no, I don’t like this. You feel like…” Her words were lost somewhere between them.
He stepped inside, and she closed the door. The loft was spacious and lulling. Candles were lit on the nightstand and the dresser. Runes and sigils were carved into the vaulted ceiling beams. A white-chalk circle decorated the floor beneath a round window on the far end of the room. No skulls, no rotting bodies, just odd purple plants, a stereo, and a rumpled bed.
Ryder paced back and forth, free to let his magic spark on the tips of his fingers now that he was with someone who understood it. “What happens if I choose to die?”
Jordan gave him space. She stood next to her bed, swathed in a long black dress. A fresh sigil was carved onto her arm. Part of it might’ve matched the one he’d seen on Thalia at the café earlier.
“If I go through with the Wolfe ceremony, if I die and come back, what then?” Ryder asked. He shrugged off his peacoat. It hit the floor, exposing pale, lean arms. His magic went every which way, abandoning the glamour he wore daily on his chest. The scars didn’t bother him, but it didn’t hurt to cover them either.
“God, look at you,” Jordan said, exhaling on the end. “You look wonderful, Ryder.”
“That’s doesn’t answer my question,” he said. He stopped and stared at the ceiling, reining in the grate of his voice. “Thank you, yeah, whatever, but—”
“If you decide to die, you become a necromancer.”
“And what happens to my elemental gifts?”
“I’m not sure. You’re the first Lewellyn-born Wolfe we’ve ever seen.”
The magic writhed against Ryder’s bones. It thrummed under his skin, loud like gunshots inside him. “What would Dad say?”
“You can ask him yourself,” Jordan said, her tone matter-of-fact. “I’m only a year older than you; it’s not like he listens to me more than he listens to you.”
“Yeah, okay, but you’re…” Ryder gestured up and down, from Jordan’s head to her toes. “You. You’re the darling dark daughter.”
Jordan rolled her eyes. “Are you going to tell me what’s really going on?”
“I drew The Magician and The Tower today.” He paused and licked his lips. “Liam pulled The Devil and The Lovers. Something came for us, and it was dark. Wolfe dark.”
“Ancestors make appearances all the time with young alchemists. What’s the problem?”
“We both felt it. I felt it, Liam felt it. We…”