Sooner or later, the past catches up. Summoned to the Bay area enclave, Edie knows her past mistakes are big enough to swallow her whole. Makeda DiBaba, the Bay Area enclave’s coven leader, member of the West Coast High Tribunal, and Edie’s ex-mother-in-law, was the one who exiled Edie from San Francisco in the first place. That the air witch now wants Edie to return can only mean trouble. Still, it would be foolish to refuse the summons of such a powerful witch. Edie can only hope that her assistance will be enough to make up for nearly killing Makeda DiBaba’s son and that the witch is no longer out for blood.
“There is another world touching ours that is filled with demons or, at least, that’s what we call them. They call themselves something else entirely, though that is neither here nor there. Every now and again, human beings manage to pull these demons through to our side. The human dies, of course, and the demon gets a person shaped suit to live in. We call these creatures the demonridden.”
Edie stared at the house in front of her. After things had ended so badly with Asad, she'd never expected to set foot in his mother's house again. The homes on this street were fairly modest by Berkeley standards, though every place had a well-manicured garden. Even the apartment building down the block, with its peeling salmon colored paint, had well-tended trees in front.
The house had dark brown shingles and a set of red, wooden stairs that led up to the second floor entrance. At street level, on the left hand side, was a garage door with golden yellow and pale pink tiles on the top half. On the right hands side was a small garden filled with spiky succulents and a lemon tree.
With Callie and Silas flanking her, Edie headed up the stairs. Thank god I got Hatter to stay put. It had been a battle, but there was no way she was going to face down Asad's mother for the first time since the incident with her magically bound stable by her side. Edie knocked on the door briskly and the rubbed her chilled hands together. The sun was setting and there was a cold, brisk November wind.
When the door open, Edie blinked in surprise. In the four years since Edie had seen her last, Makeda Dibaba hadn't changed much. In fact, as far as Edie could tell, time hadn't added another wrinkle to Makeda's long, narrow face. The look the older woman sent over the three of them dripped with disdain.
Edie dipped her head respectfully and murmured the woman's most formal title quietly, "Priestess Dibaba." As the coven leader of the Bay area enclave and a member of the West Coast High Tribunal, Makeda was among the more powerful witches in the NAFT. Edie was relieved when both Silas and Callie echoed her movements.
"Edith. Silas." Makeda stepped back from the door and waved them inside. Wearing a loose white cotton skirt and matching top, Makeda's netala was wrapped artfully around her shoulders.
The house hadn't changed either. The built-in bookshelves and hardwood floors still gleamed and the Edie was pretty sure the low couches and bright red cushions in the living room were the same. As they entered the eat-in kitchen, Edie inhaled discreetly. The earthy, spicy smell of Makeda's cooking was still there. The house made Edie feel as if the past four years had suddenly evaporated.
Makeda's air magic brushed past Edie on a hot gust of wind. Callie made a small, distressed sound and doubled over. The air witch's gaze snapped to the younger woman.
Shit. Shit. This was going bad much too quickly. I told him that girl should stay in Betsy. Though she couldn't fault Silas for wanting to avoid leaving Mark, Hatter, and Callie alone together for too long. That, too, could go bad very quickly.
Silas was bent over Callie, one hand on the back of her neck, "what is wrong?"
"Is she about to lose control?" Makeda stood up from her kitchen table and Edie felt another gust of air blow past her.
"Why don't you pour more power into the room, lady, and see if you can split my skull in two?" Callie's words were muffled, but the venom was unmistakable.
"Take her out of here, Silas." Edie jerked her head at the door. It would have been better to have Silas here with her, but pissing Makeda off when Callie lost control wasn't productive either.
Once Callie and Silas were gone, Edie turned back to face Makeda. "We are just here to help, Priestess." Edie remained formal though she and the air witch had known one another for years.
"How you dare you bring a novice into my home!" Makeda's face was compressed into hard lines and her eyes glittered with suppressed anger.
Edie dropped her eyes to the floor and tried to let her embarrassment and resentment flow through her. It was difficult not to squirm with the feelings. "Do you wish us to leave?" She straightened her head and, with a chill, realized that she'd sounded just like Silas. The words had just popped out. An ugly little thought blossomed in her head.
Makeda made a disgusted noise and then said, "the Seer said you were necessary."
Has Silas been playing me all along? Has he hooked me somehow? She began cataloguing her feelings and wished she had her diary with her. Even after all this time, I still don't know anything about him. Is he really the Seer's mouthpiece? Or does he belong to someone else? Gabriel? Guilt came along with the fear. How can I even think that? He's saved my life so many times. What if he's developing a new ability and doesn't know it? That thought felt less like betrayal. I need to write that down. "Do you have a pen?" Edie asked and then felt a red-hot scald of shame that she'd asked it out loud.
A glass was suddenly hurtling towards her. Edie ducked to one side with a surprised sound and some of the water splashed against her leg.
"Pay attention when I yell at you!" Makeda bellowed. The other woman was panting and her face contorted into rage.
Edie burst into tears. Her chest felt like a giant was squeezing her around the ribcage and her breath shuddered as she sobbed. "Sorry," she choked out and the effort made her cry even harder. Edie dropped into a squat, pressed her forearms against her legs, and buried her face in her hands. I can't do this. If Silas is using me… I can't. Edie didn't even know where the thought had come from, but it was lodged in her brain like a knife. There's too much I don't know about him.
Makeda's hand on her back startled her, but Edie couldn't get it together to say or do anything. She just crouched there while Makeda rubbed her back and made soothing sounds. It was comfort Edie didn't deserve. I almost killed your son. The thought made a fresh gush of tears spurt out her eyes.
"I didn't mean to do it." Edie choked out. It wasn't the apology she had hoped she'd have a chance to offer up.
"Which is why I didn't press for your execution." Makeda said flatly, though her hand continued to make soothing circles on Edie's back. "Come on, girl, get up. I'll make us some tea."
Makeda's fingers were strong and demanding as they wrapped around Edie's upper arm and pulled her to her feet. "Go on, sit."
Edie slid into a chair and tried to get her breathing under control. She listened to clacking sounds of Makeda putting a kettle on the stove and pulling out dishes.
"Here." Makeda dropped a kitchen towel on the table.
"Thank you." Edie whispered and wiped her face with the towel. "Do witches never lose control? Have their power come in spurts?" Edie sighed even as she asked the question. Makeda would never answer her.
"Asad didn't tell you." It wasn't a question. Makeda set two cups down on the table and the scent of cloves and cinnamon wafted into the air.
Edie shook her head. "He kept the witches' secrets. He must have told you that."
"And yet, he told you that we keep secrets on purpose." Makeda said quietly.
Edie pressed the towel into her face to give herself a moment to consider Makeda's point. Finally, she said, "I suppose that's true."
Makeda sighed. "It is not the same for us. I told you that, when Asad brought you home to meet me. I told you that you could never be sure you could keep him safe from your power."
"So you did." Edie gave up trying to regain control of herself and the conversation. Blowing her nose into the kitchen towel, she eyed the other woman warily. "What happens now?"
"You will find my grandson and get out of my city. Understand?" The hard edge of Makeda's gaze had returned.
Edie nodded. "Yes."
"Good, then I will tell you what I know."
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First, I would like to thank the author Anna Wolfe for giving me this book for an honest reveiw. I enjoyed reading this story. The characters are well written and defined. The story-line is good and the world building was done well. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
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