DARKNESS IS HER POWER…AND HER CURSE.
Sapphira is a ticking time bomb.
Two years ago, she lost control of the unstable energies within her and caused a horrific supernatural incident. Since then, she and her family have lived in constant fear of another—and her freedom seems only a distant memory.
In Huskers Grove, Iowa, a darkness looms. A great and faceless evil. An evil that wants Sapphira. Can she master her abilities to save the ones she loves or will she fall victim to the enemy that seeks to take what is rightfully hers?
LIVE WIRE, the first novel in the Blue-Eyed Bomb series by USA Today bestselling urban fantasy and paranormal romance author Amber Lynn Natusch. Blue-Eyed Bomb is a Caged spinoff series. While set in the same world as the Caged series, the Blue-Eyed Bomb series can be read apart from the other Caged World series.
A Blue-Eyed Bomb Novel
© 2016 Amber Lynn Natusch
You’ll never hear of Little Church, Colorado.
That’s because it no longer exists.
Two years ago to the day, I caused the single most devastating supernatural event in history. I wiped an entire town off the map—literally. Me. I did that.
The rub is that I still have no idea how.READ MORE
Regardless of what I did or didn’t do, or how I did or didn’t do it, that moment in time—that black hole in my memory—has since dictated everything in my life. Controlled me. It’s all I ever think about and all I ever try to escape. It owns me in a way that nothing should, and I hate myself for it. The single hope that keeps me going is that one day I might figure out how to harness the deadly power I possess, the power that overshadows my existence.
And turn it on myself.
The press of the cold, familiar porcelain sink under my bare ass was always a welcome one. So was the feel of someone working hard between my legs. He probably had a name. I didn’t bother to ask. I never did. Five minutes later, it would have been of no consequence anyway.
The pounding rhythm of our bodies lulled me, easing my frustrations—tamping down the darkness within me. Sex had never really been about anything else to me. It was an outlet. A means to an end. But my nightly conquests didn’t know that. Nobody did. Instead, everyone thought I was a whore. And, in fairness, I probably was. What else do you call a girl who fucks everything in sight, even if she has her reasons? Few things in life proved able to keep my powers in check. Meaningless sex just happened to be one of them.
The second he finished, I hopped off the sink and bent over to pull up my thong. He was talking to me—pawing at me—while I did. He seemed to be under the misguided impression that what had just occurred was something more than it actually was. From past experience, I’d learned that these faceless means-to-an-end needed to be informed of the reality of the situation quickly.
“Thanks,” I said with a voice cold as ice. “I needed that.”
“Sooo,” he started, flashing me a playful grin that probably had all the ordinary girls creaming in their pants. But I was far from normal and had no interest in stroking his ego. I’d gotten what I needed. Now it was time to go. “Can I get your number? Maybe do this again sometime?”
“Nope. I’m all set, thanks,” I said, not bothering to even look at him as I fixed my hair in the mirror. My genuine disinterest, paired with the press of my empath powers, the ones inherited from my mother, made sure he got the drift.
“Fucking whore,” he muttered under his breath as he stormed out of the club’s bathroom. For a second, the briefest moment, I cringed at his words. As much as I’d had it coming, it never felt good to be called what I already knew I was.
And I was called it often.
I once again turned my attention to the dirty mirror before me, assessing myself. I looked worked over. Turned out. My mascara was smudged beneath my eyes from sweat, my bright red lipstick smeared. The familiar sight made my stomach turn.
It always did.
Forcing my self-loathing down, I straightened myself up, wiped the black circles from under my eyes and the red from around my mouth, then strutted out of the bathroom like the queen bitch I worked so hard to be. The pounding bass line of the music greeted me the second the door swung open, nearly deafening my heightened senses. It was barely tolerable, but it too had a numbing effect on me, blocking out so many external stimuli.
That club was one of many that I frequented in Boston. It also happened to be one that my father was affiliated with, which made my bad behavior simultaneously sweet yet repellent. He undoubtedly had his brothers watching out for me, ready to report back to him about what his precious little Sapphira had done that night—how many humans she’d fucked—though I doubted any of it came as a surprise to him anymore.
As I pushed my way through the crowd of sweaty, undulating bodies, I found a tall, brooding warrior waiting for me. His deep hazel eyes were virtually bottomless, his hair as black as night. Humans tended to give him a wide berth, not only because of his formidable presence, but also because of the aura of magic surrounding him. Even their mundane senses could pick up on it, subliminally telling them to steer clear. If only I could have done the same.
But that wasn’t my fate, and I hated him for it.
“Got my drink ready for me?” I asked snidely, making my way toward him. “You know how I love a post-coital cocktail.” My comment earned me a harsh glare from my silent babysitter. “So that’s a no, I take it?”
“Are you ready to call it a night?” He was still staring at me with an intensity that secretly made me want to scream. He’d never hidden how he felt about my behavior, but he’d never directly commented on it either. He didn’t need to. His disapproving looks told me all I ever needed to know.
“I think so,” I replied as my eyes looked out over the crowd. The break from his scrutiny was welcome.
His hand reached down to my lower back in an attempt to guide me to the front entrance, but I pulled away immediately, cringing at his touch.
“I know where the door is,” I tossed back at him, striding in that direction. Along the way, I spotted my father’s soldiers. His supernatural policing force, or, in my case, his immortal tattle-tales. Maybe going to their base of operations wasn’t the best idea ever. I knew I would soon be getting a nasty phone call—one I’d had more times than I could count.
Phira, why can you not act more becoming of your birthright?
Phira, why must you behave this way?
Phira, you know what’s at stake here…
And then there was my favorite of them all.
Phira, do you want a repeat of what happened in Colorado?
No. No I didn’t, but that didn’t mean that I liked his plan to keep me from it.
I pushed through the exit and out into the street, inhaling the sweet smell of a broken city. I think that’s why I liked that part of Boston. It was just as damaged as I was.
“The car is this way,” my chaperone said, indicating the parking area at the end of the block as though I were too intoxicated to remember where we’d left the vehicle.
“Tell me something, Ajax,” I teased, using one of my many derogatory names for him. He was my father’s private (magical) clean-up crew. The one you called when the fallout of a supernatural uprising needed to be erased in the blink of an eye. As much as I hated to admit it, he came in handy—especially in Colorado. “Do you resent your detail as much as I imagine you do, or do you secretly love having to be at my side every second of the day?”
He shot me yet another look of reprimand over the top of the silver sports car, then opened the door and got in. If his intention was to give me the silent treatment the whole way home, that was never going to happen.
“Did you get some ass while I was in the bathroom? Maybe tap that werewolf that’s always eyeing you up?” Silence. “No? Okay. Maybe you tossed off in the men’s room instead?” Totally unfazed, he stared out the windshield at the dark night ahead and fired up the Mercedes. “Strike two? Hmm…what did Mr. Clean do this evening? I wonder…” I feigned curiosity, tapping my index finger on my chin while I pretended to contemplate what he’d been up to. In reality, I knew damn well what he’d done: waited. “Oh! I know what you did. You fantasized all about what I was doing. What I looked like on my knees…bent over the sink…pressed up against the stall door. The face I made when I came. I’m right, aren’t I?”
I looked over to see if my antics had gotten a rise out of him, but I found nothing but cold indifference in his profile. Then my eyes fell to his hands that appeared to be gripping the wheel more tightly than they needed to. For once, I was getting under his skin. And the joy that knowledge brought me was immeasurable. But it was followed by insurmountable guilt.
I hated that I used him as an outlet for my anger.
I hated even more that he let me.
I reached over and turned on the radio to drown out the growing silence and started to hum along. Resting my head back against the seat, I closed my eyes and let the vibration of the car and the sound of the music soothe me. I needed to get a hold of myself. I needed to find a less destructive source of peace.
Music was yet another coping mechanism for me, one I employed on an almost constant basis. If I wasn’t singing, I was humming or playing the piano (or pretending to on any surface around me). The rhythms found a way to override my emotions and numb me out. It drove everyone around me crazy.
But it kept me sane.
* * *
“We’re back,” I called out as I entered the loft apartment I shared with my two brothers. “Mr. Clean is in a particularly bad mood tonight, so consider yourselves warned.”
“I can only imagine that you had a large part in that, sister,” Nico said as he strode into the room, his shirt off while he toweled his wavy dark hair dry.
“I can’t help it if he’s sensitive.”
“Is it his sensitivity that’s the problem or your penchant for being an utter bitch sometimes?”
I shrugged again, pushing past my brother to get to the kitchen.
“How many this time?” Nico asked, though his question wasn’t addressed to me. Instead, he’d gone to my chaperone for the answer. To Mr. Clean’s credit, he said nothing. “Fine. Be that way, but I’ll find out one way or another.”
“Yes, yes, we’re all very impressed with your connections within the brotherhood,” Alek said, emerging from his bedroom where he’d undoubtedly been studying. That boy was all about the knowledge. “Should we see how long it takes you to find out how many men Phira bedded tonight so you can impress us with your turnaround time?”
Nico stared down our brother, angered by his mocking. He was the oldest of us three and acted every bit of it, even if it was only by a few minutes. We were triplets, born of supernatural badasses, and each had our own abilities inherited from our parents. Mine, however, seemed to have incurred a glitch or two.
Nico was every bit our father’s heir. He was tall, strong, intimidating, and stunning to look at. Alek, though slightly less in each of those categories, made up for those shortcomings with his cunning, shrewd nature, and his ability to appear as less of a threat. It’s easier to take out an enemy who doesn’t view you as a worthy adversary. We were all technically a part of the Patronus Ceteri, or PC, an organization of supernatural warriors bred and bound to keep the balance between the human and not-so-human worlds.
And they did so by any means necessary.
Unfortunately for me, my birthright didn’t seem to apply. Instead of being incorporated into all things PC-related, I was left out. Sheltered. Caged. That exclusion left me with one hell of a chip on my shoulder.
“I don’t know if it’s considered ‘bedding’ someone if you’re standing up, Alek.” The look that both of my brothers shot me was enough to let me know that my sarcasm needed to take a break. “Two,” I shouted. “I fucked two. Happy now?”
“Yes,” Nico replied with a look of distaste. “I’m thrilled to know you only spread your legs for two jackasses tonight. I’m sure Father will be equally overjoyed.”
“Glad I could please you,” I said with a bow before walking toward my room, humming lightly to myself. The boys were starting to get under my skin and I couldn’t afford that. Nobody could.
The struggle I faced daily just trying to keep myself in check was real and brutal, and it took almost every ounce of energy I possessed. That didn’t leave much for me to deal with petty bullshit or my brothers’ antics. No one in my family had a clue how hard it was for me, and I did my best to keep that from them. If they had known, there was no way I’d ever see the freedoms of my birthright. Thankfully, they all thought I was doing well.
I hadn’t had a single incident in two years.
But every second of those two years had been hell, even if nobody had noticed. At first they all fussed over me, having been so scared that I had died when it happened that they didn’t want to let me out of their collective sight. Once that phase was over, they would all just watch me with an uneasy look, as though at any moment it would happen again. And, in fairness, it almost did. They just didn’t know it. Eventually it was as though they’d forgotten all about it, except when it came to me serving the PC. As soon as I brought that up, everyone’s crystal clear memory of the day the incident happened shot to the forefront of their minds.
I’d found many ways to cope over time, though most of them were frowned upon. My parents thought I was just acting out at first, angry about my constant chaperone and my exclusion from PC matters. Then they started to think it was just who I was—like something in my DNA had changed the night of the blast, making me a wretched bitch. It was easier for them to accept my newfound foibles that way. So I just kept behaving badly, and they eventually came to terms with it.
Except for Nico, that is.
My sexual exploits drove him batshit crazy. He was protective to a fault when it came to his family, and me—his baby sister—in particular.
“Why do you not stop her?” Nico asked my silent babysitter. “Why do you just stand back and let her whore herself out?” Not surprisingly, Mr. Clean said nothing in response, which seemed to only enrage Nico further. “You may resent your position, but my father has charged you with the task of keeping her under control, and from what I can see, you fail at your job.”
“He’s not there to keep me under control and you know it, Nico,” I argued. “He’s the clean-up crew in case I fuck up again.”
“Which you won’t do,” Alek added. His comment was meant to be supportive, but all it managed to do was impale me with guilt. He had no idea how volatile I still was. None of them did.
“Right. So…maybe it’s time we tell Daddy that I’m all good. No need for Captain Scrubbing Bubbles to follow me around anymore.”
“I will leave when your father tells me to and not a moment sooner.”
The Specialist (which was his real name within the PC, or TS for short) spoke with a tone of finality that not even Nico attempted to argue with. That had always been the way with him: silent until there was something to say, then say it with an authority that no one could refute. I wished I had that gift. It would have come in really handy.
“Fine,” I sighed, heading toward my room. “Have it your way.”
I closed the door behind me, blocking out whatever male posturing was still going on in the living room. My brothers respected The Specialist, so it was strange that Nico had gone after him. He, more than anyone else, knew why TS was needed.
He’d seen the fallout of my rage in person.
* * *
The smell of charred flesh filled my nostrils, the acrid stench now impossible to forget. When my eyes regained their focus, I struggled to take in my surroundings. Or at least what was left of them.
Black. A sea of black extended into the horizon. All that had been was now decimated, leaving only ash and coal behind. I examined myself, trying to make sense of how I could still be alive when everything around me had been laid to waste. And yet my body was still intact. My skin the image of alabaster perfection.
It was as though I had been deposited into a nuclear fallout site just after the bomb had been dropped. But there was no bomb. Instead, I stood at the epicenter of the carnage, alone. But I hadn’t been, had I?
Not even close
My memories came to me in a rush, causing instant panic: a touch. A kiss. A love they couldn’t deny. A love that preceded the rage I’d unleashed, causing the very devastation I stood upon.
I had done this.
I had killed them.
Killed them all…COLLAPSE