Cast Into Darkness
her weird vision was a side effect of her injuries. Or the healing spells.
    Her father gave her a long, measured look. “I said, we’ll talk later. Get some sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning. I’ll tell the doctor to give you a sedative.” He headed toward the door.
    “Don’t you walk out on me. Not this time. Where were you last night? Off on another oh-so-important emergency? Why weren’t you here ?”
    Her father stopped, his back rigid. He turned around. “Kate, I’m sorry, so sorry, I was away. But I can’t always be where I want.” His voice sounded low and gentle, but his eyes were like steel.
    “Do you even care that Brian is dead? Or is losing him just a setback in your plans?”
    He paused and swallowed. “That’s… You know better. I loved Brian. I love both of you.”
    “Yeah, in your own way. With conditions.” The pain around her heart had flared into a blaze. “What did those conditions drive Brian to do? What’s your favorite saying? ‘If you don’t control the situation, the situation controls you.’ Brian was always trying to prove himself to you. That’s why he kept playing all these games, isn’t it? So what the hell was he doing?”
    “I have no idea.”
    “Don’t lie to me.” The blaze inside Kate kindled something she’d never felt before—a spark of power. “And don’t tell me to take some pills and go away. I need to know why Brian died.”
    Her father turned to leave. “Stop worrying about Brian and the stone.” He cleared his throat. “Whatever Brian did, it’s caster business. Not yours.”
    “Stop it, just stop it. You keep shutting me out. I’m sick of it.” Kate spat out the words. The spark of power inside her burst into a white-hot ball of fury, searching for something to burn. It raged inside her mind, rummaging through her thoughts, her impulses, her memories.
    The symbol for fire sprang to her consciousness like a blazing wheel. The same magical glyph she’d failed to conjure up six years ago in the Sanctum. The power boiled over into the symbol, filling its arcane lines with overheated energy.
    Before she could say or do anything, fire formed in the air in front of her and shot toward her father. He had no time to defend himself.
    The bolt of flame hit him like a burning spear, the tip aimed at his heart.
    Kate watched in horror, her anger gone cold, as the impact hurled her father backward through her bedroom door, the crash splintering it into sharp, jagged pieces. He landed with a boom in the hallway. His head hit the polished wood floor with a crack. The fire on his chest smoldered as he lay limp and bleeding.
    The single remaining spark from the fire above her dropped to her bed, flared for a moment, then went out.

Chapter Eight
    “Help! Brian!” Her stomach seized at the futility of that call. “Grayson! Help!” Kate jumped out of bed and ran toward her father. Swirls of red, yellow, and orange lights moved around her, all jumbled together. Little strands of color jumped off her and twirled out to him, as if she remained connected to him through the lights.
    She blinked, and the colored tendrils disappeared.
    Maybe they were an illusion. Was Dad lying burned and bleeding a mirage, as well, a trick to get her to believe she’d hurt him? Had someone drugged her or cast a spell on her to make her think she had attacked her father?
    Hayley sat right next to me earlier. She must have done something. I can’t trust Hayley. I can’t trust anybody.
    Kate stumbled to the hallway, dropping to her knees and touching her father’s neck, looking for a pulse.
    Please, please be okay .
    Her fingers came away sticky with blood from where a piece of wood sliced him. His chest rose and fell. He was breathing—still alive. But burns slashed across his chest and blood splattered the hardwood floor of the hallway, the walls, the potted hydrangea in the corner.
    Shouts and footsteps sounded from down the hall, and Grayson appeared, Hayley trailing

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