Scent of Magic Page 18

“You think you escaped, but you haven’t.  From the very first time I touched you, you’ve been mine. I’ve already  claimed you, my dear.”

My heart fluttered as a wave of intense  pleasure rolled through me.

Something jolted my cot, and I snapped awake.

Wynn stood over me. “That must have been quite a dream, Baby Face. Lots of writhing and moaning. Who was the lucky man? Or was it a woman?” She smirked.

I sat up, rubbing my face. “Just a nightmare.”

“Ah, too bad. Do you get them often?”

Debating how much to tell her, I hesitated but then decided since we shared a tent, she and Liv should know. “Every night.”

“That stinks.”

An understatement. Before she could question me further, I stood, changed and grabbed a quick breakfast before heading over to the forest training area to meet Ursan’s squad. They stood at attention at the edge of the field. Two rows of five young men known as the jumping jacks. Despite their cockiness, I sensed an undercurrent of hostility from them.

I glanced at Ursan. “Jumping jacks?”

“Remember that move I pulled on you?”

“When you jumped down from the tree?”

“That’s our squad’s signature style for ambushing the enemy,” Ursan said.

“You were jackknifed, sweetheart!” a soldier called from the ranks, and they all laughed.

One look from Ursan silenced them. He had their respect, but I didn’t. Fair enough, for now.

I turned to the group. “Who called me sweetheart?” No one moved. “What? Too chicken? Come on, reveal yourself.”

A soldier in the front row stepped forward with a challenging smirk. I crossed my arms and scrutinized him for a long moment while I wrapped my fingers around the handle of one of my throwing knives.

“You’re not my father or my lover,” I said, causing a ripple of snickers. Boys.

I pulled my knife and threw it at the center of his belt, hoping I put the right amount of heat behind it. I didn’t want to hurt him.

He yelped as the tip of the blade pierced the leather far enough to keep the weapon in place. Staring at me in shock, he opened his mouth, but snapped it shut when I walked up to him.

I gripped the handle of the knife. “If you call me sweetheart again—” I yanked it out “—I’ll aim lower. Understand?”


I waited.

“Yes, Sergeant.”

“Good. Return to your position, soldier.” I scanned the others. A combination of surprised, impressed and admiring expressions met my gaze.

“Does anyone else wish to call me sweetheart?” I asked.

No one said a word.

“I believe you proved your point, Sergeant,” Ursan said. “Let’s get started.”

I spent the rest of the day teaching the jumping jacks how to move in the forest. Not exactly sure if I could explain the technique in my own way, I taught it the same way Kerrick had shown me.

A few, like Ursan, caught on quick. Others struggled but eventually mastered the technique, and a couple had no sense of rhythm at all. They would have to return tomorrow for more practice.

Lieutenant Thea arrived in midafternoon to watch the session. She consulted briefly with Ursan before leaving.

The next day I worked with Ursan’s two remaining men while the others practiced their new skills. This time Major Granvil visited and asked for a demonstration.

I picked the four best students to accompany me and the major. We walked deeper into the forest until I found a suitable location.

“All right, gentlemen, I want you to take a noisy stroll away from us. Then on my command, go silent. Your goal is to return one at a time and get as close to Major Granvil as possible. He’ll signal when he hears you. Understand?”

“Yes, Sergeant,” they said in unison and with a little too much enthusiasm.


They tromped through the bushes as if they’d get extra points for noisiness. No doubt scaring away all wildlife. Major Granvil regarded their retreating backs before pulling his gaze to me. “I’d thought they’d give you a hard time.”

“They tried.”


“They’re smart, Major. They quickly learned this technique can save lives.” I drew in a breath and projected my voice over the din. “Gentlemen, go silent!”

The crunching, snapping and rustling died in an instant.

“They could have just stopped moving,” Major Granvil said. He stroked his mustache.

I agreed. “That’s why I asked them to return. Listen closely, Major.”

He scanned the woods, turning in a slow circle. Although I had picked the best, they still needed practice. Small sounds, off notes and rustlings reached me. I tracked the first soldier. He had gone wide and planned to approach from our left.

When the soldier was about four feet away, the major heard him and called out his location. Major Granvil’s voice remained steady but couldn’t completely mask his surprise.

The next two soldiers were caught a few feet farther away, giving the major a sense of security. The last man looped around us. He showed more patience than the other three, moving when the major moved and stepping with care.

I examined a berry bush so I wouldn’t give the soldier away. He crept up behind the major and grabbed his shoulders. The major jerked but didn’t cry out. He turned and shook the smiling soldier’s hand.

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