Magical Intentions Excerpt
Biomystic Security Book One
I was in the midst of measuring out a corrosive chemical when the door flew open and two massive men wearing standard uniforms stalked into the room. I didn’t startle as most probably would have. Instead, I carefully placed the two test tubes on the lab bench and looked at the intruders with a smile. I even took a moment to enjoy the way their black shirts clung to their massive chests and how the dark green cargo pants hugged their thighs.
The first man stood at six and half feet tall with wide shoulders and muscles on top of muscles. Not even the t-shirt could contain them. Arms at his side and hands in fists, his muscles were straining. His face was twisted with rage as his light-colored eyes landed on me and shot daggers from underneath shaggy blond hair. I smiled at Davies before turning my attention to his partner.
The second man stood a few inches shorter and had a cleaner cut. Still massive, with dark eyes and dark hair to match his quiet persona, he was of the more relaxed type. He was too much of a gentleman to show his anger so blatantly. I knew there was always a reason I liked Venni.
“Laila,” Davies bellowed, pulling my attention back to him, which was impressive, considering he was only a human. Venni’s wolf shifter personality was rubbing off on him. “What the hell?”
“Your fault,” I said as I reached out with faint tethers of magic to confirm what I knew to be true. Davies’s arms were stuck to his sides because they were bound around his waist with invisible magic coils. I broke out laughing, my stomach instantly aching.
I thought of the empty spot in my cabinet, where my lasso prototype should have been. Only a handful of people had access to my lab and Davies was one of them. We liked to play a game—I pretended not to notice when he snuck in and took one of my toys to play with, and when he came back, I grilled him on the results. The prototypes were, for the most part, completed and in final stages, so I didn’t worry about his safety too much. Directions were even attached to each invention.
Apparently, the lasso needed some calibrations.
I glanced at Venni, who stood off to the side with his bulky arms crossed over his impressive chest. If I didn’t know the wolf shifter so well, I would have missed the amusement that flickered across his stony face.
Snickering again, I tried to rein in my humor. I really needed a good laugh.
“Not funny,” Davies said. “Get me out of this.”
I straightened from my work bench and jutted out my hip, resting my hand on it, the smile wide on my face. “That’s your fault and your mess. Maybe if you stopped sneaking into my lab and taking my prototypes, we would stop having this problem. I haven’t even properly tested that out yet. Be glad it didn’t cut you in half like it did the dummy I used.”
Venni snorted, smelling the lie in the room; Davies had no such senses, and his face paled, realizing for once that it could have been a million times worse.
“It really would have done that?”
I nodded. “Luckily for you, I got the calculations right this time so it didn’t coil too tightly.”
He looked properly contrite now, his voice softer. “Please, just get it off me.”
“Sure,” I said and walked toward him. “But first, a couple of questions.”
“Laila,” he said.
I raised my hand, cutting him off. “You’re my first human test subject, so there will be questions or you can go to one of the other researchers.”
“I already did.”
I smirked. “And they couldn’t get it off.”
He grumbled something that had Venni smiling—the equivalent of laughter for him. Of course no one would even attempt to dismantle my creation. I was sure as soon as they glanced at Davies, they knew I was the creator. I’d only been working here for five months, but I was already known to create miracles with magic. The supernatural community knew about me pretty much the day I was born. One of my foster parents had told me that a ripple went through the community the day I came to be. As a baby, I apparently really knew how to introduce myself.
I was currently the youngest labbie at the ripe old age of nineteen, and I already had my PhD. I could have just holed myself up in a lab at some esteemed university—there were enough offers—but I wanted a challenge, and working at a security firm gave me exactly what I craved. Plus, the ability to be free with my research. In the last five months, I’d managed to improve seven of their gadgets and created four more with five prototypes in the making, including the invisible lasso currently wrapped around Davies.
“Fine, ask away,” Davies said, caving.
I spent a few minutes asking him questions as I gathered my magic and carefully undid the magic coil. If not done right, it would only tighten, a safety measure I put in so that those who were captured couldn’t undo it. I’d have to come up with an easier way to undo this. I didn’t want to accidentally squeeze people to death.
When I finally got him free, he pulled me into his chest in a bear hug, holding me tight enough to break off my breathing. I enjoyed the scent of sandalwood before trying to pull away from him.
“Maybe now you’ll stop taking my toys.”
He chuckled. “No way.”
“Then at least ask me beforehand.” I hit his back until he put me back down. I wasn’t mad at him. We both knew this was a game we’d played ever since I’d cornered him four months before and made him try one of my prototypes. We bonded through the experience as I healed the concussion it gave him.
Venni cleared his throat to get our attention. “Now that everything is resolved, the boss wants to see you.”
“Which boss? My boss?”
He shook his head. “Your boss’s boss’s boss.”
“You mean him?” I nearly yelped. I’d only met him once and that was when I was first hired. My research department was deep underground, and I communicated with my boss who then reported to another boss who finally went to the big boss if there were any problems. And I wasn’t really one to go to company parties or meetings or conferences... or anything, really. I preferred hiding out in my lab, losing myself in my work and finding people to test my toys on. Unlike Davies, most others knew to run the other way when I even hinted at asking for a favor. No one wanted to sport a rash for a week or have to regrow fingernails or have their hair change to a new color every time they woke up in the morning.
“Yes him. Mr. Dwight Lombardi, the owner of our fine company. He wants you to come out from underneath your rock to meet him,” Davies said.
I shivered. I did not want to meet the illustrious Black Dog again. And by Black Dog, I meant the huge shady-ass dog, as big as a fricken pony, who enjoyed hunting people and tearing them apart before dragging them back down to Hell. There weren’t many out there, they liked staying in Hell, but Lombardi was definitely one of them. “No thanks, you can tell him I’m busy.”
“No one tells Lombardi they’re busy, especially not his employees,” Venni said.
“Ugh.” I ran my left hand through my brown curls. “Why must you remind me that I work for him? And why did you have to sound like you belonged in the mafia when you said that?”
Davies chuckled. “Because you do work for him, and I swear, half the time you forget it. We’re more than just a research company.”
“I know that,” I snapped at him. Biomystic Security, or BMS, was the number one security firm in North America and our job as researchers was to keep coming up with the best gadgets to ensure we stayed number one. “How the hell did I even get his attention? I haven’t done anything,” I whined.
Venni looked over at Davies and then smirked. I turned to Davies and narrowed my eyes, my voice going very soft. “What did you do?”
Davies straightened his posture as if I was his commanding officer. He knew what the softness of my voice meant. If he didn’t give me an answer I liked, he needed to be running before I turned him into dust.
“Um... he may or may not have been on this job with us.”
“You mean when you used the lasso to capture yourself instead of your mark?”
The floor rumbled under my anger and both men stiffened, preparing to bolt.
“Laila.” Venni held out his hands to placate me. “Please, just calm down. I think he just wants to meet you. He got a kick out of it and no harm occurred. We still got the perp.”
“I don’t see why I would be getting into trouble. Davies is the idiot who stole my stuff. When does he want to see me?”
“Of course.” I smiled big, and Davies winced. “I’ll see you tomorrow, my dear Davies. I have something else I want to test out.”
The poor man paled considerably and swallowed. “I’d rather not.”
“You owe me.” I left no room in my voice for complaint. Reluctantly he nodded, probably already planning to go update his will and hug his friends and family goodbye.
I glared at the two of them before focusing on my location. I’d only seen the office once, but it was enough. I drew on the memory, wrapped my mind around it, thought of the smells, the sounds, the taste. A moment of weightlessness later, I stood in front of the boss’s boss’s boss. He was on his feet with one of my own creations pointed at me in zero-point-two seconds flat.
But then again, he was the Black Dog. Hell, he didn’t even need a gun.
“Who the fuck are you?” The growl in his voice deepened it to a low rumble.
I raised both my eyebrows, ignoring the way my heart pounded against my chest. Fear was a weakness, and I didn’t do weaknesses. I used the few moments it took my heart to calm to take in the big boss. Mr. Dwight Lombardi was the type of man a woman drooled over. Strong jaw, straight nose, an irritated scowl, and a smooth light chocolate skin tone. A suit conformed to his frame perfectly, and I knew right away that he needed everything tailored because he was the same size as the two idiots I’d left behind in my lab. Apparently, size was a requirement for the meatheads.
“Dr. Laila Porter. Venni said you wanted to see me.”
Recognition flashed across his face. “And you couldn’t use the front door?” He lowered the gun, and it disappeared behind his desk, which he towered over.
I shrugged. “Easier and faster. What can I do for you, Mr. Lombardi?”
His eyes trailed up and down my body, leaving heat along my skin. I forced myself to remain still, not wanting to show him how much he affected me with just that look alone. There was something in his eyes, drawing me in and threatening to hold me captive. His predator wanted to come out and play.
“First, I want to know how you got through my personal wards. You shouldn’t have been able to teleport in.” He didn’t sound pissed off anymore. Just curious. I tilted my head to the side and pursed my lips. I liked the way his voice sounded. He had a rich silky tone, deep and calm enough to give you a sense of security. Knowing who Lombardi was and what he did, he’d do everything to make you feel safe. If you pissed him off though, he had no trouble ripping that security away from you.
Finally, I grinned and straightened out. “Secret.”
He shook his head. “Tell me.”
I shrugged. “Do you want the dumbed down version or the scientific version?”
He sat down and leaned back in his seat; his dark eyes stayed focused on me as his muscles bulged. No games. Got it. I could practically feel the potential violence coming off him in waves. I tilted my head to the side. Magic seemed to be attracted to him, charging the air around him, thickening it.
He was more of an energy man, not magic. I focused a little more and found the layer of energy around him, already in his complete control. Definitely dangerous.
“It’s like hacking,” I spoke up. “I know you’re a pro at that, so you understand the concept quite well and what it entails. Well, I hacked the magic instead of technology. I created a backdoor that only recognizes my magic signature. If another tried to use it—if they can even find it—then they’re in for an uncomfortable surprise.” I shrugged. “And considering there are maybe all of three people in this city with the magic level to use transportation, I figured it would be fine.”
I got comfortable in one of his guest chairs and gave him my brightest smile. We had a little staring contest, and I didn’t miss the amusement as it flickered across his face. He was curious, and I saw the gleam practically growing as he considered me. He should have been mad, enraged at me for creating weaknesses in the security. Instead, he moved on, accepting my answer. He didn’t even ask me to close it.
“How long have you been working here?” he finally said.
“Five months and you’ve managed to accomplish more than our senior researchers.”
I shrugged. “I can sit here and boast about how I’m a genius, but you already know. I’m a Level A1 magic-user and officially reached that level when I was eleven. You have great scientists here, but you’re also letting my age deceive you. I’ve been playing with magic since I could move my chubby little fingers, so I’ve been doing this for nineteen years. I’m senior in my own way.”
“Magic since you’ve been a baby? That’s hard to believe.”
“Is it really? I mean, I’m sure you’ve already read my dossier, and I’m sure that file tells you every little detail, including what age I was potty trained.”
The corners of his lips turned up. “And you know that isn’t true. There isn’t much known about you, Dr. Porter.”
He straightened in his chair, and I mentally swore. He was interested. Dogs liked bones and my history was one he would enjoy digging up.
He leaned forward and grabbed a light blue folder sitting to the side of his large desk. “Are you interested in doing a commission for us?”
“A side project really. You’ll continue to work in your lab but will also work on a project. You won’t be put into any danger, and you’ll be awarded greatly for your time.”
“Oh, sounds interesting. What do you want me to do?”
“In a couple of weeks, I have an executive client coming for a weekend. I need your magic hacking skills to improve our wards. This man will have all kinds of people looking for a loophole to get to him.” He paused, his expression hardening. “He is not allowed to die.”
“Especially while they’re here in the top security firm.”
“Any restrictions?” I asked, sitting straighter now at the prospect of having free reign over Biomystic Security. My magic rumbled through me with anticipation.
I cocked my eyebrow. “You might regret saying that.”
“As long as you get the job done and no one’s killed under my watch, I don’t care.”
“Can I set traps to capture intruders?”
He nodded. “If you can, I’ll give you a bonus for each one you are able to detain.”
I stood up. “You have a deal, Mr. Lombardi.”
We shook hands, and I ignored the brush of energy at his touch. Grinning, I wrapped my magic around me and imagined my lab. I left the same way I came in—with style.
I was about to finish figuring out the right ratio to make a very precise blast—with enough strength and radius—when Ami came bursting in, practically dancing with bubbling excitement. I sighed and put the chemicals back down, resigning myself to not getting anything else done today. Everyone was interrupting me.
Maybe I needed to go back to locking everyone out of my office. Then again, Ami and Davies would just find a grenade launcher and try blowing the door up to get inside. Those two worked together to make sure I didn’t hide in my lab for too long.
“Laila,” she sang.
“Ami,” I sang back.
She did a little jig before plopping down on a rolling chair and gliding toward me. “He said yes!”
“Yay!” I faked my excitement. “Who said yes?”
“Larson. He finally agreed to go on a date with me. Man, that boy is shy. Two months of breaking him down.”
I laughed and gave her a high five.
“More good news,” I said.
“Oh?” She gave me all her focus. The way she looked at people and paid attention was why we were such good friends. She helped me get this job. She’d worked here for over a year already, as one of the meatheads. One of the few female meatheads, actually.
“Your boss’s boss has given me a job for commission.”
“What?” Her brows furrowed. “Lombardi has?”
“Oh shit, what the hell is he thinking?” Her face grew red with anger. “You aren’t a meathead, Laila. You don’t work in the field. You told him no, right? Right? You told him you’re meant for the lab, tucked away safely and away from the dangers of the world. Right?”
I held up my hand. “First of all, you make me sound like I’m incapable, so I’d stop if I were you before you talk yourself in a corner.” She snapped her mouth closed. “Secondly, I’m not out in the field, relax.”
She blinked a couple of times. “What is he making my precious Sparks do?”
“I’m just fixing the security here before his special guest shows up.”
“Oh!” Her eyes lit up again, and she giggled. “He is definitely a special guest.”
“You know about it?” I asked. “Once he told me about the assignment, I tried finding some mention of it, but couldn’t.”
“No, he’s keeping it hush-hush, so there won’t be any mention of it anywhere. It’s all through the gossip mill. There’s been a buzz about it for the last month and everyone is scrambling to make sure everything’s in top shape for him.”
“This is the first I’m hearing of it.” I frowned. How’d I not know this was going on? “Who is it?”
“The owner of Shanton Enterprise. A massive conglomerate focused in the tech industry. Very innovative. He’s coming to stay with us for the weekend while hashing out details of a partnership. Something about their technology and our services. They give us exclusive rights to some of their technology, and we provide security for multiple businesses for them.”
“Really important,” she said. “And he’s putting you in charge of making sure they don’t get offed?”
“Yup.” My grin widened. “And every baddie my traps capture, I get a bonus.”
“Hmm, sounds fun.”
The phone strapped to Ami’s waist went off in a series of beeps.
“Crap, I have a job to get to. Tonight. Me and you. We are going out. I have a feeling that after today you’re going to be super busy.”
She laughed as she danced out in a flurry of movements, just as much excitement radiating out of her as when she came in.
I stared at the closed door for a few moments before turning back to the table and eyeing all the chemicals. If I got the ratio right, I could blast everyone within five feet of the explosion with a pulse that would knock them out for a couple of hours.
After I released a breath, I pulled my light brown hair into a ponytail, needing a break to recollect all my thoughts. With Ami’s disruption, I’d lost all focus on my projects, and I needed to get my head in the right space before getting back to work. I needed to work through all the new thoughts floating around in my head thanks to Ami’s information. Shanton Enterprise. I’d heard about them, but never enough to want to look them up. Now I needed to do some research, I needed to understand them. Tonight. I’d be able to do it tonight. For now, I needed to keep working.
I shook my head of my thoughts and grabbed my gas mask and a small ball, unrelated to my current project. Prototype Two. I peeked out my door but no one was in the hallway. Made me wonder if there was some kind of alarm set up for when I needed a guinea pig.
I worked my way up, out of the basement. Some people saw me with the mask and dove for the closest room. Locks clicked as I walked past them.
I didn’t spot a potential victim until I was out the front door. Sitting at a bench, shoulders hunched, with a familiar cloud of depression, sat Elliott. I’d known him for about two months. We met because of an assignment, and then I saw him again last month at a bar, in pain because of a bad break-up. I theorized he was getting ready to propose to her. I bought him a beer, and we talked a little then went our separate ways. Hadn’t had a chance to interact with him since, though I’d seen him around often enough.
Quietly, so that he didn’t spot me, I snuck up and then sat on the bench next to him. He didn’t even look at me, lost in his own thoughts.
“The best way to heal is to get out of your head,” I said.
He grunted before finally looking at me. His grey eyes widened as he took in the gas mask hanging around my neck. He was on his feet in moments, ready to take off.
I twirled my fingers, manipulating the magic to wrap around him. His runner’s frame bulged with lean muscles as he tried to fight against my magic.
“Laila, let me go.”
“No. You’ve been stuck inside your head for a couple of weeks now. It’s time to move on, and I have the best medicine.” I held up the small ball.
His eyes got even bigger, and he shook his head. “I’ll pass.”
“You owe me.”
“I do not.”
“Oh, yes you do,” I said with an unladylike snort. “Tell me again how you were able to find that little girl again after losing her? And who didn’t tell anyone about your little mishap?”
He visibly swallowed.
“Don’t worry so much. It shouldn’t be painful.”
“I heard you told Sametz that a while back. He ended up with burns on his chest.”
I shrugged. “Prototype, remember. Besides, this little toy has nothing to do with fire.”
“What does it have to do with, then?”
“Illusions. Illusions are like ghosts. They can’t hurt you.”
“Poltergeists are a kind of ghosts, and they can hurt very much.”
“True. Okay. Then more like a vivid dream.”
“It’ll be a goddamn nightmare.”
“You know, with all this chattering, we could have already finished.”
He sighed, and I knew I’d won. I laughed and let go of the magic, letting it absorb back into the environment.
“Excellent. Now, I just need you to stand there and I’ll give this little baby a toss. It’ll hit you, you’ll see a short illusion as a distraction and gives me enough time to take you down.” I patted my waist where my belt of toys sat.
“Just get this over with.”
I smiled and pulled my mask up as a precaution.
“Hold on, why do you need that on your face,” he asked as he stared at my mask warily.
“Just in case. I wear it all the time.”
He stilled, but didn’t say anything as I took aim. I held my hand behind my head and then gave it a good whip. The small ball flew and hit Elliott right in the chest. Bullseye! The ball burst into a light purple cloud.
Elliott stiffened, his eyes huge, and I knew he was lost in the illusion. I sprinted to him, wrapped my arms around his waist, and took him down in a classic tackle. I pinned him with all my weight, using my hands to keep his arms away. My legs squeezed him tightly.
I may have been a labbie, but I still knew a trick or two in combat. I wasn’t going to put myself up against anyone trained, but I at least knew to kick a man in his junk and then run away.
After a few more long moments, Elliot blinked a couple times and let out a ragged breath. Another second later, he was cursing up a storm, his eyes hard.
Maybe I should have warned him that the illusion would be his greatest fear.
“Goddammit, Laila. What the fuck was that?”
I smirked and wiggled on top of him. He really was a handsome bastard and this wasn’t a bad position to be in. This moment was going to feed some of my fantasies for the next couple of weeks. He felt nice between my legs.
“I’m still thinking of a name, but basically it’s to stick the baddies in the illusion, giving you enough time to take him down and strap him up.”
“You could have fucking told me.”
“Or not. They won’t know what hit them until it’s too late, anyway. Not knowing helps strengthen the illusion. If you knew what you were going to see, you would’ve had time to brace yourself for it and it wouldn’t have been as strong.”
Slowly, the corners of his mouth curled up, and he let out a laugh that sent warmth into my chest. Laughing was a good look on him, relaxing his face to remind us that he was still young, even for a human. He had a couple of years to go before he hit thirty, but the stress of the job made him seem older.
I smiled down at him, glad to be the one to make him look like the twenty-something year old that he was.
Someone cleared their throat, ruining the moment, and we looked up to see the big boss man standing over us, an unreadable expression on his face. Elliott stiffened underneath me, and I could feel his discomfort.
“Yo, Mr. Dwight Lombardi,” I said, refusing to let him make me feel guilty for doing my job. Really, that was all I was doing, working. Not my fault there were some perks to it, like straddling a hot man.
Lombardi’s eyebrow rose as he looked at us both.
“Why are you making a spectacle of yourself outside my building and attracting all kinds of attention?”
I looked around for the first time and realized we’d drawn a small crowd. They probably thought I was one of the meatheads taking down a baddie. I snorted at the thought. I wouldn’t survive a day as one.
“No worries.” I waved my hand. “My prototype is a success.” I grinned and did a little dance. Elliott made a grunting noise, and I realized I was still sitting on him. “Oh, sorry.”
I climbed off him, and he jumped to his feet, cheeks red with embarrassment. Elliott didn’t like being seen. His specialty involved tailing others and not getting spotted by his marks. Elliot was a chameleon. Not a real one, he was as human as they came, but his talents were even more impressive since he didn’t have a drop of magic to help him.
I knew this to be a fact because his files told me so. That alone made him an impressive man and someone I’d want on my team if things went to shit.
“That’s good, Dr. Porter. Now if you don’t mind, Mr. Baker has an assignment.”
“Oh, no, that’s fine.”
Lombardi nodded and walked away as we stared after him. His jeans looked good on him.
I turned to Elliott, my grin wide.
“What?” he asked, the wariness heavy in his voice.
“Do you feel better now?”
He blinked at me a couple of times and then broke out in a small smile.
“Good.” I smacked his back. “She isn’t worth losing yourself over. Just remember, it’s her loss because you have a whole line of women waiting for you to pull your head out of your ass so they can jump you.”
He let out a chuckle and turned to walk away.
“Oh, don’t forget to stop by and see me tomorrow. I want to ask you questions about Prototype Two.”
He nodded and strolled away, his walk smooth, shoulders straight. I hummed to myself as I grabbed my toy and tucked it safely away in my shoulder bag before scurrying back into my lab, my mind running with statistics and possibilities.
I was going to perfect this beauty in the coming week or so. I just needed to make a couple of adjustments.