Spell Games

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-02-24
  • Publisher: Spectra
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Brain-eating fungi, wannabe sorcerers, long-lost relationsdoes even a hard-core witch stand a chance? Mad sorcerers, psychic vampires, an army of vengeful demons, Marla Mason would rather face them all than a flesh-and-blood ghost from her dysfunctional family past: her con artist brother, Jason. As Felport's chief sorcerer, Marla would ordinarily consider it her duty to protect her town from such an unscrupulous ne'er-do-well. As his sister, things are a lot...trickier. Now, as Marla attempts to train an apprentice oracle whose magical wires have gotten crossed, Jason is setting up an elaborate sting and drawing her ever-so-corruptible partner Rondeau into the ruse. Their patsy is a filthy-rich wannabe mage and their bait is something so valuable, so dangerous, so sought after, it probably doesn't exist. But now word's gotten out that the Borrichius sporesdoexist and instead of a sucker Jason and Rondeau have a much biggerand much deadlierfish on their line: a reclusive sorcerer whose devotion to the mushroom god and command of vegetal magic could bring a fungal apocalypse to Felport. It'll be the mother of all bad trips unless Marla can pull off the ultimate magical switcheroo...and somehow live to tell about it. From the Paperback edition.

Author Biography

T.A. Pratt lives in Oakland, California with partner H.L. Shaw, and works as a senior editor for a trade publishing magazine.


Chapter One

Marlita," the man said again, standing just inside the door to her office. He regarded Marla with an expression of mingled admiration and delight, extending his arms for a hug.

Marla Mason—ruthlessly pragmatic chief sorcerer of Felport, a woman who'd recently outwitted the avatar of Death, who'd once kicked a hellhound across a room, who'd thwarted the king of nightmares, and who had even killed a god (admittedly a very implausible one)—stood behind her desk and stared at him. She'd already said his name once. She didn't think she could bring herself to say it again just yet. There was a dagger in her hand—when had she picked that up?—and she gently put it down. "You. Here. Why?"

"Eloquent as always, little sis." He came around the desk and swept her into his arms.

"Jason." She spoke into his shoulder, almost breathing out the word. Even his smell was familiar, the smoke-and-whiskey scent of a bar's back room. She hadn't seen him in almost eighteen years. The time she'd spent without her brother in her life was, by now, years longer than the time they'd been close. Marla pulled away. "How did you find me?"

"You look beautiful, Marlita." He swept a stray strand of hair out of her eyes, and Marla froze. How long had it been since anyone had touched her so familiarly, so easily? Even her occasional lovers were tentative; they knew her well enough to be afraid a little, even in their intimacy. Jason wasn't tentative at all. He was family.

She grabbed his wrist, hard. "I asked you a question."

Marla was tall for a woman, but Jason had a couple of inches on her. He didn't fight, though. "A man can't visit his sister?" His voice was a perfect blend of surprise, concern, and just a hint of wounded feelings. Finely honed. She felt instantly guilty. Jason still had the knack of manipulation. No surprise there.

Marla let go of his wrist. She took a step back and frowned, looking him up and down. He was past thirty-five now, and his lean good looks were touched with something harder, something that hollowed his cheeks and bagged his eyes. Even the marks of wear and tear weren't ugly, though. They gave his face more character, made him seem like a guy who'd seen hard times, and could sympathize with your own suffering. His dark suit fit his frame perfectly, and his eyes twinkled, bags or not. Jason could have been a politician. He wasn't.

"You still on the grift?" Marla asked.

He raised one eyebrow. "Me? A grifter? Heavens, no. I'm a legitimate businessperson now. Just like you. Nice nightclub, by the way." He sat down in one of the guest chairs before her desk.

She glanced at her friend and associate Rondeau, who had opened the door for Jason and now watched them with undisguised fascination. "It's his club, not mine."

Jason raised his hands and smiled, a smile that said, "We're all in this together," a smile that had emptied many a wallet and opened many a bedroom door. "No need to be coy with me, sis. I'm not from the IRS."

Marla rubbed her eyes. She'd had a long day—actually, a long summer—and this was too much. She'd rather face the literal vengeful ghosts of her enemies again than confront this haunt from her past. "I know it's not in your nature to cut the bullshit, Jason, but, really, why are you here? Do you need money or something?"

"Money's always welcome, of course, but I'm not interested in charity. I heard you were here in Felport, doing well for yourself, and . . . I actually have a business proposition for you." He glanced at Rondeau. "One best discussed in private."

"It's a bad idea to do business with family," Marla said. "It's a sure path to heartbreak. If that's all you wanted, I'll pass.&quo

Excerpted from Spell Games by T. A. Pratt
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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