(Excerpt for the 5th Evie Jones. There’s a shooter in the hospital and Evie has to stop him, with her ex who doesn’t know about magic and friend/crush who does in tow.)
Chet’s head appeared behind the desk and my heart loosened a bit. Chet and I weren’t an item, we’d tried and it just didn’t go anywhere, but our friendship had survived and couldn’t believe how grateful I was for that.
He waved us over and I broke and ran for him, paranoia the only thing keeping my arms out and down with the gun in them instead of thrown around his neck.
“Okay, you get him out, make sure no one’s taking shots from a window or something,” I whispered.
“No,” Chet said. “You’re not doing this alone. You need someone to watch your back.”
“You two both need to stop acting crazy and come out with me,” Kieren said. “I’m serious. This isn’t a game.”
“Yeah, we got that,” Chet said before I could. “We’re armed, you’re not. Get outside.”
“Kieren,” I said before he could argue. “I’m not going to be able to do this if I’m worried about you. Do you get that?”
“Good. Then you won’t do it.”
“Oy vey. Kieren, people could die.”
“That’s what I’m worried about.”
“So is he.” Kieren clenched his teeth and met my eyes. “Evie, I get you have this vison of yourself as brave in the face of danger, great, you proved it’s true. Now get over it. You aren’t equipped to handle a mad man like this.”
“Yes, I am.”
He tossed up his hands and turned away. “I can’t… do either of you have an extra gun?”
“Whoa, no,” I said.
“I do,” Chet said, pulling his spare from the belt under his shirt. “It’s a double action revolver like Evie’s. All you got to do is pull the trigger. It means you…”
“I know.” Kieren checked the back to see the bullets. “I wouldn’t ask for one if I didn’t know how to use it. How do we find this guy?”
“Kieren, no,” I said.
“You’re the one that keeps saying people could be dying and you have to stop this man now, we can’t wait for the police. Do you really have time to argue with me?”
“Stupid, testosterone filled putz.”
“Yeah, I care about you too.”
“If you’re doing this because I said you don’t care, I take it back. I was trying to hurt you and get a rise out of you. Okay? You don’t have to prove anything.”
“I’m not trying to prove anything.” He stared me down and I looked away first.
Chet kept his eyes peeled and looking above us and around the lobby incase the shooter tried to get the drop on us, but he paused to give me a look and mouth, “Ex?”
I shrugged and nodded.
He nodded once at the right hallway. “He went that way.”
“ICU’s down there. You think he lost someone?” I said.
“Or he’s just a crazy guy who watches bad doctor shows because that’s the only place someone shoots up a hospital.”
“Bite your tongue, that is an awesome doctor show.”
The boys fell in around me, Chet in front and Kieren in back. I didn’t fail to notice they put me in the middle but I didn’t have time to complain.
I sent my magic out, sensing the world, trusting the guys to keep an eye out. Holy crap, I’m trusting Kieren to watch my back… literally.
The hospital hummed, electronics in every room setting the world on edge and making my teeth hurt. This was easier to do outside when all I had to sense was nature and what was wrong in it. With the electronics and chrome and glass around me, it got a lot harder to feel out any specific person or thing. I set my mind out, sniffing for lack of a better term, for a person with ill intent, malicious aforethought, mind on murder.
“Oy vey,” I said under my breath.
“What?” Kieren asked.
I shook my head. “I’d explain if I could.”
We kept creeping and I zooned out, focusing on the world again. Okay, if there’s not someone trying to actively commit evil, what about mental illness? I sent my brain skipping through the hospital, searching for telltale signs of a brain slightly off from the rest of the world. This was easier. Emotions didn’t always give off the sense of wrongness, because emotions were part of all humans, even blinding rage or grief. But someone with a brain left of sane? That one would stand out again the crowd.
Red throbbing hit my senses upstairs. I couldn’t tell what floor but it was definitely this wing.
“Upstairs,” I said.
“How do you know?” Kieren asked.
I didn’t look at him. “I think he might be going for the ICU. That’s upstairs. On third.”
Chet looked back at me, raising his eyebrows. I nodded, light and slow. If Kieren noticed, he didn’t say anything.
We snuck up the stairs at the end of the hall, all of us so on edge that began to seep into my consciousness and block out the sense of wrongness the shooter gave off.
I held up a hand and got in front of Chet when we hit the third floor. He opened his mouth and I wiggled my fingers, hoping he’d get it.
He shook his head. I met his eyes and wiggled my fingers again.
“Whatever it is, just say it,” Kieren hissed. “I don’t know what you’re trying to keep from me, but this isn’t the time.”
“It’s always the time. Stay behind me, I’m going first.”
“No,” Kieren and Chet said together and I pushed open the door, shield up and pushed in front of us like half a bubble. Imperceptible to the human eye but hopefully strong enough to stop a bullet.
Bullets rained down the hallway and smacked into my shield with meaty thwaps, cluttering to the ground a second later.
I screamed and Kieren grabbed my arms, pulling me down and behind a nurse’s cart. Yeah, like that was bullet proof.
His eyes widened and he looked from the bullets on the ground to me. His mouth worked and I smiled. “Surprise.”
“Now you know why I wanted to go first.” I stood, gun up and at the ready.