Cursed(The Thrice Cursed Mage Book 1)

By: J.A. Cipriano

I pushed it out of my mind and plunged my hands into the freezing water, desperate to wash off the smears of blood and the stink of hot garbage. The sensation was hard to describe because while it should have been cold enough to turn my skin blue, it felt more like lukewarm bathwater. Maybe the room was just chillier than I’d thought and the comparison was messing with my mind?

There were no goosebumps on my naked body though, and I didn’t feel particularly cold. It was curious, but not as curious as the dark tendrils extending out from my right shoulder. They reminded me of slowly spreading rot. It was like a promise of things to come. None of them good.

That’s when I freaked out and started scrubbing at my flesh, trying desperately to get the ink off my skin. The blood and grit came off pretty quickly, but the darkness remained behind, stubbornly clinging to my arm. Whoever had done this to me had sure made it tough to get off.

I stood there scrubbing my flesh raw until the draining water ran clear. I let out a slow breath as cold water ran down the back of my neck and decided I needed to get myself a real shower with warm water. So far, I’d just assaulted the darkness with cold water and soap so cheap it couldn’t even get the gunk out from beneath my fingernails. That wasn’t going to do the job on this black stuff. Whoever had done this, didn’t want me getting it off easily. I wasn’t sure why that was the case, but it would probably make perfect sense once I figured out who I was and what was going on.

“I just need to get out of here,” I mumbled to myself before I pulled on another man’s underwear. If stealing it had been a low point, this one was five feet under. I bit my lip to keep from cursing in frustration and put on the rest of my permanently-borrowed clothing. I hadn’t found a belt or shoes so I was forced to use my old ones. Thankfully, the cheap black leather loafers and matching black belt were easy enough to clean off with paper towels and soapy water. I’d still have to trade them in, but for now I was confident they’d withstand cursory inspection.

In a fit of neighborliness, I gathered up the remnants of my bloody clothing and dumped it in the trash instead of leaving it on the floor. That done, I began moving toward the door, intent on letting myself out of the place. Something behind me grabbed ahold of the back of my neck and jerked me backward so abruptly, I nearly fell on my ass. I spun, fists raised, but the only thing I saw was my trench coat sticking out of the trashcan even though I was pretty sure I’d put it on the bottom. It was pristine which was somewhat surprising since I didn’t remember cleaning it off.

Before I realized what I was doing, I’d pulled it free of the garbage can and slung it on. Something about wearing the heavy black coat felt like coming home. Perhaps it had sentimental value my lizard brain wouldn’t let me ignore. That must have been it.

I probably looked ridiculous standing there in a half-tucked blue polo, a black trench coat, and khaki pants several inches too long for my thirty-two inch legs, but hey, maybe I was going to go scare children at the local Walmart after I figured out who I was. I had no memories after all, so who knew what I was supposed to be doing right now?

With that thought still fresh in my mind, I unlocked the door and stepped out into the laundromat to see two hulking men in tank tops beating the shit out of a five-foot-nothing woman.

Chapter 3

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I yelled at the thugs trying to stomp a mud hole in the girl’s ass.

The two brutes glanced at me from across the laundromat with black as mud eyes. The dismissal plastered across their faces made me angry in a way I couldn’t quite explain. Clearly, they didn’t see me as much of a threat and that was unacceptable. I stepped forward with the sudden desire to show them exactly who the alpha male was in here.

The guy closest to me was bigger than his compatriot and had skin the color of coffee spoiled by too much cream. His bulk seemed to overflow out of his sweat-stained white tank top, making me think of someone who had probably played sports in high school, but had since let an extra layer of years build up over his muscles. He turned his shaved head back toward the brunette, ignoring me. A surge of rage exploded in the back of my brain.

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