She was in the building. I could feel it.
Her energy popped and crackled like sparklers on the Fourth of July, winding me up the moment I stepped into the library. I’d find her tonight, I decided, no matter how much she tried to avoid me, to avoid any of the students at Twyst Academy. She wasn’t supposed to mingle with us.
Because unless I was totally off, Maddigan Pierce was barely keeping the lid down on more natural-born magic than a dozen academy students combined. Even crazier, she didn’t go to school here—she worked here. Which made things kind of tricky. Twyst had ironclad rules about its superrich, super magical, and super elite student corps messing with the hired help.
I didn’t care. She belonged here more than we did.
And tonight, I was going to track her down. Talk to her. Touch her hand, maybe. My mouth watered just thinking about it, and I had to fight from going hard. Which was kind of insane, because the girl I wanted so bad it hurt, the one who made my pulse jack every time I was within fifty feet of her?
She was a freaking janitor.
“Earth to Con-ner,” crooned a totally different girl right in my face, yanking my attention front and center. It shouldn’t be a hardship—Brynne Green was everything I should want in a study buddy—gorgeous and redheaded, with a tight skirt, heavily-lashed eyes, and a seductive pout. She clearly didn’t believe I’d asked her to hang with me tonight because I needed to nail this week’s exams, not her smokin’ hot body.
Hell, I couldn’t believe it either. Studying had been the last thing on my mind since I’d gotten into to Twyst Academy, elite school of magecraft, three years ago. I came because it was expected of me, stayed for the spells and the unexpected tribe I found, partied like it was my job, and coasted for the first two years.
But third year…third year had been a bitch. I was behind in every class, so I had to ace this last round of exams if I wanted to qualify for the Mage Trials. Hugh and Rafe had the GPA to get in, and my best friend Marcus was a freaking genius, so he was guaranteed a spot even if he tanked his midterms. I was still on the bubble, though, which meant I had to buckle down. I’d been trying to score a tutor for three straight weeks, and Brynne here was my last chance before exams hit over the next few days.
“Sorry.” I gave her a smile that made her mouth soften and her eyes light up with calculated interest. Damn, she was hot. Why didn’t she turn me on? Why didn’t anyone other than Maddigan Pierce, now that I finally figured out she was the reason I’d started gravitating toward the library every night at the beginning of this semester, the reason why the squeak of wheels on a goddamned trash cart made my hands sweat?
Another flare of power zipped across my senses, and I forced myself to breathe steadily as I focused on Brynne, her lips slick with candy-apple lip gloss and her shiny hair tumbling over her shoulders. But it wasn’t Brynne I wanted, at least not for anything other than figuring out my psychometry midterm. It was a stone-faced, hazel-eyed, tight-jawed Valkyrie with her hair yanked back in a ponytail and her body buried in baggy men’s clothes and scuffed boots as she slipped from shadow to shadow in the quiet halls of Twyst Academy, determined not to be seen.
It had taken me an entire semester to figure out Maddigan’s name, and I ruthlessly avoided repeating it now in my mind, because I knew from experience how my body reacted to it. Brynne already had the wrong idea here, tugging me toward the study pod.
I needed to get it together, like, right now.
“You know, we could have studied in my room,” Brynne purred as we sat down in the cushioned chairs. She leaned toward me, giving me a fantastic view of her tits, and I gritted my teeth—not because I wanted Brynne, but because I’d have given my left nut to see another set of breasts right now, breasts I’d only been able to imagine, shielded behind a buttoned-up tan workshirt that gave no indication of the body beneath. Even the thought of peeling off Maddigan’s oversized clothes, touching the warm and supple skin beneath—
I stared at Brynne with a surge of intensity that had her sitting up straight. “Sorry if I wasn’t clear,” I said, a little rougher than I wanted. “I really do have to study.”
She didn’t seem to mind the rejection. If anything, her eyes flashed with more interest.
“Oh, come on…” she cooed, swaying toward me again. Her hair bounced, her lips pouted, but all I could concentrate on was the fact that someone else had ducked her head into the library, someone else was watching me, the sudden blast of awareness and power setting every nerve in my body on fire.
“You can’t expect me to believe you actually want to work tonight,” Brynne continued. “You always ace everything! And there are so many other things we could be studying…”
I heard it then, a soft chuckle of derisive laughter that nearly turned me inside out as the surge of power abruptly cut off and I was left alone, breathing hard, stiff as a pole, forced to deal with a sexy-as-hell co-ed with anything on her mind but studying, her hand already reaching out to caress my thigh.
Through no fault of her own, Brynne’s touch was as brutal as an ice bath, immediately taking the edge off my blinding need for another girl entirely. A girl who worked so hard not to be seen, it was a miracle I’d ever realized she existed. A girl who right now was pushing her way deeper into the heart of Twyst Academy, vanishing from sight.
A girl I supposedly couldn’t even talk to.
Tonight…that was going to change.