Home > Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(2)

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9)(2)
Author: Ilona Andrews


   Fat chance of that. Roman’s father, Grigorii, was the head black volhv in the city. His mother, Evdokia, was one-third of the Witch Oracle. When they had fights, things didn’t boil over, they exploded. Literally.

   “So far I’ve avoided both of them, so I’m enjoying the peace and quiet. Come in.”

   He held the door open. I walked past him into a large living room. Golden wooden floors, huge fireplace, thirty-foot ceilings, and soft furniture. Bookshelves lined the far wall, crammed to the brink. The place looked downright cozy.

   Curran walked in behind me and took in the living room. His thick eyebrows rose.

   “What?” Roman asked.

   “No altar?” Curran asked. “No bloody knives and frightened virgins?”

   “No sacrificial pit ringed with skulls?” I asked.

   “Ha. Ha.” Roman rolled his eyes. “Never heard that one before. I keep the virgins chained up in the basement. Do you want some coffee?”

   I shook my head.

   “Yes,” Curran said.

   “Black?”

   “No, put cream in it.”

   “Good man. Only two kinds of people drink their coffee black: cops and serial killers. Sit, sit.”

   I sat on the sofa and almost sank into it. I’d need help getting up. Curran sprawled next to me.

   “This is nice,” he said.

   “Mm-hm.”

   “We should get one for the living room.”

   “We’d get blood on it.”

   Curran shrugged. “So?”

   Roman appeared with two mugs, one pitch-black and the other clearly half-filled with cream. He gave the lighter mug to Curran.

   “Drinking yours black, I see,” I told him.

   He shrugged and sat on the couch. “Eh . . . goes with the job. So what can I do for you?”

   “We’re getting married,” I said.

   “I know. Congratulations. On Ivan Kupala night. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it’s brave.”

   Ivan Kupala night was the time of wild magic in Slavic folklore. The ancient Russians believed that on that date the boundaries between the worlds blurred. In our case, it meant a really strong magic wave. Odd things happened on Ivan Kupala night. Given a choice, I would’ve picked a different day, but Curran had set the date. To him it was the last day of werewolf summer, a shapeshifter holiday and a perfect day for our wedding. I told him I would marry him, and if he wanted to get married on Ivan Kupala night, then we’d get married on Ivan Kupala night. After moving the date a dozen times, that was the least I could do.

   “So did you come to invite me?” Roman asked.

   “Yes,” Curran said. “We’d like you to officiate.”

   “I’m sorry?”

   “We’d like you to marry us,” I said.

   Roman’s eyes went wide. He pointed to himself. “Me?”

   “Yes,” Curran said.

   “Marry you?”

   “Yes.”

   “You do know what I do, right?”

   “Yes,” I said. “You’re Chernobog’s priest.”

   “Chernobog” literally meant Black God, who was also known by other fun names like Black Serpent, Lord of Darkness, God of freezing cold, destruction, evil, and death. Some ancient Slavs divided their pantheon into opposing forces of light and dark. These forces existed in a balance, and according to that view, Chernobog was a necessary evil. Somebody had to be his priest, and Roman had ended up with the job. According to him, it was the family business.

   Roman leaned forward, his dark eyes intense. “You sure about this?”

   “Yes,” Curran said.

   “Not going to change your mind?”

   What was it with the twenty questions? “Will you do it or not?”

   “Of course I’ll do it.” Roman jumped off the couch. “Ha! Nobody ever asks me to marry them. They always go to Nikolai, my cousin—Vasiliy’s oldest son.”

   Roman had a vast family tree, but I remembered Vasiliy, his uncle. Vasiliy was a priest of Belobog, Chernobog’s brother and exact opposite. He was also very proud of his children, especially Nikolai, and bragged about them every chance he got.

   Roman ducked behind the couch and emerged with a phone.

   “When some supernatural filth tries to carry off the children, call Roman so he can wade through blood and sewage to rescue them, but when it’s something nice like a wedding or a naming, oh no, we can’t have Chernobog’s volhv involved. It’s bad luck. Get Nikolai. When he finds out who I’m going to marry, he’ll have an aneurysm. His head will explode. It’s good that he’s a doctor, maybe he can treat himself.”

   He plugged the phone into the outlet.

   It rang.

   Roman stared at it as if it were a viper.

   The phone rang again.

   He unplugged it. “There.”

   “It can’t be that bad,” I told him.

   “Oh, it’s bad.” Roman nodded. “My dad refused to help my second sister buy a house, because he doesn’t like her boyfriend. My mother called him and it went badly. She cursed him. Every time he urinates, the stream arches up and over.”

   Oh.

   Curran winced.

   “You hungry? Do you want something to eat?” Roman wagged his eyebrows. “I have smoked brisket.”

   My fiancé leaned forward, suddenly interested. “Moist or dry?”

   “Moist. What am I, a heathen?”

   Technically, he was a heathen.

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