Cursed(The Thrice Cursed Mage Book 1)

By: J.A. Cipriano

I sighed and stuck my head inside, but all I could see was the narrow line of the entryway and a splash of hallway wall. This place was deserted. That left one ominous question. Why would someone leave a house and not lock it up? Especially if they’d been gone for such a significant length of time that the trashcan had neglected to be put away?

Against my better judgment, I stepped through the door and onto the white and gray marble floor. I swept my gaze right and left. Right led to a series of closed doors, likely bedrooms and bathrooms. Left led to what looked like a family room. I went left. The last thing I wanted to do was burst in on someone changing. What would I say? “Oh, Death appeared on his pale horse and sent me to make sure you remembered to wear clean underwear?” Yeah, that’d go over real well.

I resisted the urge to draw the Desert Eagle still tucked into my pants even though a small voice in the back of my head urged me to clear the room with military precision. Instead, I slowly poked my head around the corner and did a quick scan of the room.

A coffee table with cherry finish. Beige leather couches. An end table matching the coffee table with a small beige lamp sitting atop it. No people.

I released a breath I hadn’t known I’d been holding and stepped out into the room. My foot crunched on something, and I looked to see I’d stepped on a plastic toy. A green tyrannosaurus rex.

A jolt of memory exploded through my brain. I had the tiny dinosaur in my hand, only my hand wasn’t blacker than the hair of Satan’s ass. I was offering the toy to someone in front of me, someone I couldn’t quite picture. I strained, trying to force the details into being, but as I did, everything slipped through my fingers until I was left staring at the dinosaur beneath my shoe once again.

Fear gripped me as I snapped back to reality. I knew whoever had lived here well enough to have given the dinosaur to them as a gift. The thought made my blood run cold.

“Hello?” I cried much louder than before, but the only response was deafening silence. Panic swelled up inside me as I hurried through the room and pushed through a door along the far wall. It opened into a kitchen with granite counters and professional looking stainless steel appliances. No people again, but judging by the smell, the trashcan was somewhere in here. I didn’t stay long enough to confirm.

The next room was the dining room, complete with a bar height oak table and chairs. A china cabinet stood along the far wall, displaying a set of dishes that looked expensive. The floor was covered by that tile meant to look like wood. Also expensive. The type of expensive that was too expensive to be in a house like this. Something was definitely off.

I drew my gun, not caring if I scared someone. I shoved my way through the door on the other side of the dining room. Another room done in the same tile greeted me. An enormous black television was immediately visible mounted to the far wall situated between foot tall marble statues of the Justice League and the Avengers respectively. I swung my gaze and my gun around as I stepped into the room. My heart leapt into my throat.

Spray painted across the far wall in dripping red paint was a message.

“You have three days to finish the job or we kill the girl and her kid.”

A date was written underneath in black. The date was from two days ago. Today was my last day to finish the job. The only problem was, I had no idea what it was.

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