Eight o’clock in the morning is too early. Especially for a witch hunter that’s been stalking witches through the city all night. Witch activity always increases after dark, especially at three in the morning. That’s the witching hour, the time of day when all their spells are the strongest, their power is at its strongest.
I turn on the coffee maker and slowly ease myself onto the couch, wincing at the soreness in my legs and back. I’d been following a small group of witches from the Belaya Coven. They’d kidnapped a few children and were going to kill them to help preserve their youthful looks. I’d managed to free the kids and get them out of the apartment before the witches came after me. I’m just thankful that my older brother works with the police department because he helps me cover my tracks with things like that. I’d managed to kill the witches, but not before they’d bruised me.
A pounding knock sounds at my door, the noise from the heavy fist that could only belong to my dad.
“It’s open,” I call, wincing at the pain in my ribs.
Dad storms into my apartment, towering over me, which isn’t much of a feat, considering I’m only 5’6” and he’s about a foot taller. “What the hell were you thinking last night?”
“Nice to see you too, dad. Glad to see that you’re doing fine. No, I’m not hurting too bad,” I throw in sarcastically. I may still be eighteen, but I’d moved out a long time ago and I wasn’t used to being yelled at.
“What were you thinking going after those witches alone?” he repeats, running his hands through his messy black hair. “One, I can understand. But three? Elizabeth, you could’ve been killed!”
“Dad, I’m not hurt that badly. I’m fine,” I protest as I get up and limp to the coffee pot.
“Fine?” he sneers. “You can barely walk. What’d they do to you?”
“Thrown into a bookshelf. But I killed them all and even cleaned up my mess,” I answer, pouring myself a mug of coffee. “No evidence left behind,” I say after taking a sip of the scalding liquid.
Dad grunts and reluctantly sits down on the couch. He knows he trained me well. “At least you’re remembering to keep your brother out of this. It’s going to look suspicious if he has to cover things up every time he responds to a call.”
I roll my eyes and limp back to the couch. “Daniel can take care of himself. And if he had called me back last night, he could’ve gone with me. You know he’s had it out for the Belaya sisters since they humiliated him in December.”
Dad smiles at the memory. “His hair was pink for weeks. And he ruined three razors trying to shave it off.”
We both laugh a little and I take another drink of coffee. “So now that you know I’m fine, what’s up?”
“There’s been evidence of a new witch in town,” he says, leaning forward, forearms resting on his knees. “Real powerful one, too. The signs suggest that it’s a male, young for a witch, and alone.”
“So what do you want me to do?” I ask, staring intently out the window.
Dad sighs. “I really don’t want you to do anything, but seeing as how I’m retired and your brother is a sucky witch hunter, just do what I taught you. Scout, follow, investigate. Only intervene and reveal yourself if he does something out of line.”
I nod and lean forward, mimicking my dad’s position, coffee forgotten. “Right. So when do you want me to start?”
“As soon as you can walk normally again. I want you to be able to run if things go bad,” he answers with a shrug. “Start looking around the park. It’s the easiest access for him to get the things he needs for spells and rituals.”