Trapped Chapter 1

The air was thick with smoke from fog machines. Colored strobe lights danced in the beat to the music as cigarette smoke, stale beer, and lust drifted around. It was one of the grubbiest dive bars Carmen had ever been to. She readjusted the purse strap over her halter top.

I hate bars.

She snaked her way through the tightly packed crowd to the bar and waved down one of the bartenders. “Club and lime.”

He cocked a brow.

“Thanks.”

She studied the hustle and bustle of the meat market in front of her. Females pranced backed and forth hoping to be picked up. Men stood along the wall. Women danced on the floor with guys lurking on the side, watching, waiting to pounce. While those who already hooked up were making out in corners.

“Hey babe.”

From the corner of her eye she saw a tall, blonde fae standing next to her. She shot a glance his way. His indigo eyes twinkled while his toothy smile widened. “Hey.”

“Can I get you a drink?” he asked leaning in.

“No thanks.” She held up her drink. “I’m good.”

“In that case.” He edged in closer. “I’m Rick.”

Of course, it was. She believed that like she believed she needed another hole in the head. Fae were known to give out common names to strangers. Knowing their true names forced them into a kind of slavery or getting out of debt you incurred like Rumpelstiltskin.

Since she was a witch she didn’t have to worry. “Carmen.” Something about a witch’s power being similar to a fae or something like that. Who really knew.

“I’ve never seen you here before.” He picked up a piece of her hair.

Goddess, they were a downright touchy bunch. “That’s right.” She swatted at his hand. And he wouldn’t have because she didn’t bar hop. If she wanted to dance, she’d dance at home. “I’m not from around here.” She continued scrutinizing the mob; searching for her prey, and hoped Rick would get the idea.

“Wanna dance?”

“No thanks.”

He crowded into her personal space even more and grabbed for her arm. “I can show you good time.”

She snatched her arm away.  “Not interested.” Carmen shot him an evil eye.

The bouncer interrupted. “Everything okay here?”

She nodded. “It’s fine.”

The bouncer stared a moment before walking away.

Rick stared at her. “How could you not be interested in me?”

The press of his magic weighed on her. She met his gaze. “Easy. I’m not. Stop trying to glamour me. I’m not interested.” That was the thing with fae. They knew how to enchant and use their glamour to get what they want. If they wanted a lot of attention and to show off their beauty, they dropped their glamour. The opposite was true for hideous fae; they used it to hide what they were or to scare others off if they didn’t want to be bothered.

She felt his magic shift and run through her aura. “Witch,” he said with disgust.

Fae always thought they were better than everyone else. Now he knew his glamour wouldn’t work on her.

With a hand flip, she said, “Yes I am, now be gone. I’m waitin’ on someone.”

Eyeing her like he couldn’t make up his mind, he asked, “Are you sure you’re a witch? You read similar, but it’s different, almost like your one of us.”

Keep it cool she reminded herself before casting another evil eye. “Very.” She ignored him for what seemed an eternity before he got the hint and moseyed off.

It felt like hours went by with no prey in sight. Where the hell was that wanker? Saturday night and he was still absent. Carmen moved to a dark corner, hiding in the shadows.

An hour and ten men later, he walked in. “Thank Goddess,” she muttered under her breath. The last thing she wanted to do was come back. She watched him make his entrance.

A path cleared as if he was a tornado hurling down the center of a street. Female eyes gravitated toward him as jealous men tugged on their women. He paid them no attention. It was almost if they didn’t exist.

His walk was smooth, his face was chiseled with sharp angles by master craftsman. She narrowed her vision to focus on more imitate details of his face and body. Dark hair pulled back, a line of scruff on his jaw, and light phantomous eyes marked him a warlock. Make that one sexy warlock.

Three busty, beautiful women swarmed him like seagulls to garbage. She needed to get close and personal if she was going to bring him down.

Carmen scoped out a place where she could be seen, pushed her chest out, and sashayed to dance floor. She rolled her hips and swayed to the beat of the music.

A pair of hands found their way to her hips. She cast a glance over her shoulder, smiled, and leaned back. The fly just flew into her web. “Hey.” She slid from his hold, turned, and danced back into his arms just as a slow jam hit the floor.

“Hey yourself,” he said flashing his pearly whites. His hand glided to her back end. Carmen moved his hand. “Tony’s here every weekend and has never seen you before.”

She clasped her hands at the nape of his neck. “I’m new in town.”

“Does new in town have a name?”

She felt his magic brush over her, leaving a slimy trail behind. “Carmen.”

“Well Carmen, this is Tony.”

“Where’s Tony.” She peered around him.

He chuckled. “Me.”

She glimpsed down and bit the corner of her bottom lip. “Oops,” and giggled. Oh great. This was going to get old quick.

“How about Tony and you join those lovely ladies over there.” He pointed to the three ladies that attached themselves to him earlier. “And get a drink.”

She threw her head back and laughed. “Sure. But I’ve gotta make a trip to the ladies room first.” She let her fingers rake through his hair.

“What are you drinking?”

“Whatever Tony is?” She smirked, giving his hair a quick pull.

He smiled. “Tony likes it rough.”

“Good.” She tugged again, pulling some of his hair out this time. She wrapped it around one of her fingers before moving away from him.

“Tony’s getting to get lucky tonight.”

“Oh yeah.” Not in this life time. She ran her tongue over her lips. “Be right back Tony.” She waved to him with a finger.

The line was long. She shifted from foot to foot and sighed. The girl in front of Carmen shot a dirty look over her shoulder. “What?” The girl turned back around.

Finally. In the stall, she opened her small purse and pulled out one of the talismans. She twisted ‘The’ Tony’s hair around the talisman; chanting a binding spell to prevent Tony from using his stolen power; then bent it to discharge the spell. Please worked, she begged silently. Any other time she’d use own blood instead of a surrogate to activate them, but she was banned from practicing it.

Back at the table, she found Tony surrounded by a half dozen females mooning over him. Talk about over kill. Carmen shook her head.

“Hey ladies, why don’t you let Carmen here sit next to Tony.” His smile looked blue as the black lights bounced of his teeth. They hemmed and hawed. “Don’t worry there’s enough of Tony to go around.”

She slid in next to him. “So, you’re popular around here.”

He rolled the ice around in his glass. “You could say that.” He took a drink and sat it down. “Tony thinks you got amazing eyes and your skin.” He ran his fingers up and down her arm. “It’s like almost like you’ve been dipped in glitter. Tony wants to know the color of your eyes.”

“Amber.” Carmen wanted to roll her eyes and pop her tongue so badly. Tony really needed to learn to speak like a normal person. Too bad he wasn’t normal. He was a real douche.

“Boy, they’re unusual. Reminds Tony of a cat.” His fingers still trailed up and down her arm; pushing his magic on her; trying to ensorcell her.

“I get that a lot.” She twirled her hair around her finger. “Wanna get out here? Maybe spend a little alone time together.”

So sure of himself, he said, “Tony would love to.” They both moved out of the booth. He nodded to the other ladies. “You’ll see Tony next weekend.”

Fat Chance.

The women moaned with disappointment, giving Carmen heated looks. He put his arm around her waist as she slid her hand into his back pocket, slipping in the talisman in and patted his behind. She prayed it would work.

They strolled into the parking lot. “My place or yours?” she asked.

“Mine,” he told her.

“My car’s down the street.” The pot marked lot was dark with hideaway alleys. Carmen wished she could’ve gotten a closer parking spot.

Carmen rested her head on his shoulder and murmured, “You’ll get into the back seat and fall asleep.”

“Why would Tony fall asleep? What the hell are you talking about?”

Buggers. “Yeah…I was…” She bit the corner of her bottom lip. “…hoping I could stay the night.”

“That didn’t sound like a question.”

“Well…” stammering, “…I’m not,” taking his hands in hers, “…used to going home with men I just met.” She chuckled.

He grabbed her arm and pulled her into one of those dark, dank hideaways. Tony shoved her against a brick wall of the alley.

Carmen hit hard. Her breath let out in a whoosh. He grabbed her other arm, digging his fingers into her flesh. She knew she’d have bruised later.

“Who the hell are you? “

“Carmen. I told you earlier.”

“You lie to Tony. What do you want?”

“You.” Carmen gripped his shirt collar. She put that magical lilt into the voice that worked on humans. Warlocks were just bad humans who used magic. “I want to spend the night with you.”

He pulled her inches away from the wall and slammed her back into it. Her head bounced and she saw flecks of white lights. “Tony doesn’t like liars. Tony feels your power and thinks it would taste good.”

With her head still reeling, she failed to make her mouth work. Twinkling lights were becoming the least of her worries. Her vision was fading to black when power started burning deep from her center, building until it flowed through her, into her limbs, out of her hands and into Tony.

He was blasted into the opposite wall. Carmen fell to her knees in the filth and her pants ripped. She gasped for breath.

When her lungs took air in without her panting and gasping; she opened her eyes. Her gaze fell on Tony who was embedded into the brick.

“Well shit,” she muttered. She gazed at her handiwork. “Ain’t that something.”  She had no idea how she did it. Never in her life had she been able to build and manage a power so great. Even when she was dabbling in the darker arts. The dark arts that got into trouble with the Witches Council and paying pence at her uncle’s company, The Supernatural Intelligence and Recovery, SIR for short. SIR was an invasive megacorpation that investigated all supernatural activity, much like human security and domestic agencies.

Henry wanted Carmen there, even if it was by force. As long as the threat of the Witches’ Council hung over her, she was stuck. He kept training in different jobs within SIR, hoping one would spark her interest and she’d stay in the family business when her sentence was over. So not happening. Ever. Especially after tonight.

Carmen picked herself off the ground, wiped her hands on her pants, and went to Tony. She checked his pulse, lifted his eyelids, and gingerly slapped his face. His lights were dim, but not out. She knew couldn’t get him to her car by herself.

It didn’t take long for her eyes to adjust to the darkness of alley. Her purse laid at the entrance. Weak kneed, she wobbled to her purse, when the heel of her boot caught in a pot hole and she twisted her ankle. Fuck.

It took several moments she didn’t have to get herself together and to her car.

Driving up to the alley entrance, Carmen put the car in park, jumped out, and opened the back door. Tony was still embedded in the wall and unconscious.    Carmen slid the sleep charm into the front of his pants pocket so it would be close his body, and something pricked her hand. She grabbed it.

A white business card with a picture of a cruise ship read Cuddles Elite. A tickle in the back of her mind said it was important and that her uncle might be interested. She put in her pocket for later.

Having enough wiggle room between Tony and wall, she was able to wrap her arms around his waist and pulled. Several good pulls dislodged him from the wall. She stumbled backwards with his full weight on her and almost fell again.

It was no easy feat, but she got him into the car and didn’t care when he went head first onto car floor.  He deserved no better after what he did to those women, stealing their essences and leaving dried out husks. Carmen shifted into drive and speed off. She couldn’t wait for this night to be over.

SIR loomed over other buildings, casting a shadow over them. Not too much longer and she would be there. Thank goddess it would be over soon.

She drove to the back entrance and laid her hand on the horn. The garage door went up and Mika came out. He was short for giant, topping at an even eight feet. Although he could intimidate the bejesus outta someone, Carmen thought he was just a big teddy bear. She waved hello as he drew near.

He opened her door. “Whatcha got?” he asked.

She got out of the car. “I brought in the warlock,” she said handing her keys to him. “I left a charm in his front pocket.” At this point she didn’t care if she got into the trouble for using them. It was late, she hurt, and just wanted to be done.

“Looking good Carmen,” he winked. “Any problems?” He glanced in the backseat.

Feeling drained from the evening’s events, she couldn’t even flirt back. “No problems. I’m going in to get my paperwork done so I can be done with this case.” She limped toward the garage to use the back entrance.

“Are you sure you’re okay.”

She stuck up her arm and waved without turning back to face him. “I’m good. Could you please get him out of my car so when I get done I just go home.”

“The boss wants to see you. Told me to send you up when you came in.”

She stopped and whirled around. A wave of dizziness threatened to take her down. Her hands shot out from her sides as she steadied herself. A moment passed. “Seriously?” He nodded. Shit.

“Good luck,” he told her.

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