Sireno has grown up knowing that she is the key to the magic that keeps her parents apart. It hasn’t been a fun burden to bear when her mom announces that it is time for her to head to the Crossroads to break the binding.
Aeric has seen Sireno in action, both as a shadow who can lift objects and testifying fearlessly in the Mage Guild courts. Her beauty and wit only match her versatility. Without lying outright, she obfuscated enough to make him doubt what he had witnessed. What a woman.
Once she is at the Crossroads, she is ready to settle in, but she gets an emergency call. She sends her shadow out to get two shifters out of trouble, but she is shocked when one of them returns to the Crossroads, looking for her.
With a stunned realization, she finds that she was waiting for him all along.
Sireno kicked out at the dummy and sent it rocking. “I don’t understand.”
Her mother sighed from the doorway. “We held the lottery, and our family has to send someone to the Crossroads to find a mate.”
She switched to the punching dummy and waited after each hit for it to resume its balance. “So, why not Cousin Timbra?”
Sireno grinned and asked, “Limira?”
“She only dates women.”
Her mother crossed her arms and scowled. “He’s twelve. You are our only reasonable option.”
Sireno kicked the dummy, and he rocked violently to one side. She sighed and took off her gloves. “When do I have to go?”
“In the next two months. That is when the council will meet again, and you need to be checked in there to satisfy our treaties.”
Sireno looked at her mother, the lady of the house and head of their family. “It is that important?”
“It is. We are obligated to tithe a child for apprenticeship to the Kelmens.” Doriano Mithas frowned. “I don’t like it either. Grubby thieves.”
“What do you think we are, Mom?”
She snorted and laughed at her mother’s turn of phrase.
“Right. Well, I have a commission tonight. I need to do that extraction for Lady Dellis.”
“Oh, is that today?”
Sireno snorted. “Yes. It is today.”
“You have verified provenance?” Her mother was back into business-manager mode.
“Of course. It hasn’t been donated by the royal collection. We are good.”
Her mother nodded. “Excellent. I will have the drop ready.”
Sireno smiled. “I am just going to have a shower and get something to eat. Don’t want to do what I am trained for on an empty stomach.”
“Oh, you will be fine. You always are.”
“There is always a first time for a major screw up.” She smiled brightly and unraveled her hand wraps.
“Why do you engage in that unsightly activity? This used to be a delightful little room, and now, you have it full of all this... stuff.” Her mother sniffed.
“While our family skill allows us a certain ease for entering and leaving a room, there is no substitute for physical confidence.” Sireno smiled. “If you know how to throw a punch, you can learn how to dodge one.”
Her mother tutted. “You are going to be at dinner this Saturday?”
“Yes, if I am not at the Crossroads.”
The snort was just as unladylike as the boxing had been, and it showed that the lack of decorum didn’t fall too far from the tree.
Sireno grabbed her towel and wiped her face before draping it around her neck. “Right, I have to get showered and changed. I will see you this weekend.”
“We live in the same house, pet.” Her mother snickered.
“Yes, but I plan on being occupied getting our next extraction in line after this. The house doesn’t pay for itself, Mom.”
Sireno headed down the hall and to her suite. Getting ready for an evening’s work was always difficult. That is why she did her best work at dusk.
She checked the surveillance feed that she had hacked into and compared the display with the image in the collection record that the current custodian of the item had for insurance purposes.
Sireno grabbed the bag that she had for carrying her target item and walked into the mirror room.
The spell work on the floor glowed as she stepped onto it. Sireno chanted the activation spell that sent light rocketing around the room so that the only place her shadow could go was inside her.
She inhaled, exhaled, and let her consciousness fall into her shadow. She knew where she needed to be, and her shadow took her there.
Her shadow moved through the gallery as she looked for the bracelet that had been stolen from her client.
Sireno didn’t mutter to herself while she drifted through the display of trophies taken from the sexual conquests of the mage in question. He specialized in mimicking glamour, and that led to the women around him making foolish decisions. That would be fine, but he liked to steal trophies from his conquests and put them on display. It was exceptionally tacky, but he was high up in the guild, and no one wanted to call him on it. His skills were too useful to the Mage Guild.
Sireno’s shadow found the bracelet and noted the traps laid around the bracelet displayed with the name of the lady who had owned it. Very tacky.
Focusing on the bracelet, she passed her hand through the display that was wired to alarm. Her hand cupped the jewels as she focused, and it came free in her grip. She dumped it into her bag, and footsteps running toward her caught her attention.
Her shadow looked at the man who was approaching her with a gun on his hip. She took him in in a second. Short hair, hard jaw, bright and focused eyes, and he was intent on her.
She would have loved to interact with him but not with that look on his face. She stepped away from the display and disappeared. She let the light of the room burn away her shadow and returned home.
Sireno knelt and breathed in deeply. She held the bag up and withdrew the bracelet. “Great. One done.”
The web of spells around her was slowly fading. She got to her feet and went to the delivery box outside the lightroom. She set the bracelet in the box, and it was whisked off to her client.
Sireno’s knees buckled, and she put the bag away before she staggered to her kitchen. She had to get something to eat, and she had to get that security officer’s gleaming eyes out of her mind.
As she sat with her sandwich, she chuckled. Wherever his bright gaze was, she bet it was pissed.