What if he was just a jerk? Not an evil, black magic practicing jerk, but just an every-day type of controlling, misogynistic man?

When he didn’t say anything, I leaned against the table, my elbows just resting on the edge. “We both know that there are all sorts of magic. Elemental. Blood. White. Black… And covens can lean more one way than the other. Some extremely so.” I took a breath. “What kind of sect are they?”

Matt shook his head slowly. “The only kind that I know. Somewhere in the gray area between white and black.” He studied me for a second and I itched to move, but didn’t. I couldn’t show him any weakness. “If you really think that there are covens that practice only one kind of magic, then you’re even more naive than I thought.”

I took the insult with a grain of salt. If he wanted to lash out at me because I’d ignored him yesterday, I could deal. I’d surely dealt with worse. “Maybe so.”

“Well, this all-male sect is the only one practicing any sort of magic in this part of South America. Period. So, if you’re looking for a coven, this would be them.”

I took a moment to brace myself. I hate that I have to do this… “If your offer is still on the table, I’d like your help. I need to talk to them about something.”

His answering grin definitely made me suspicious. Whatever he was going to say, I probably wasn’t going to like it. “What am I getting out of this?”

He was such a douchebag. “Do you only think in terms of what’s good for you?”

“Yes. I’m the most important person to me. No one else will put me first if I don’t.”

Even though I wasn’t surprised by that statement, it made me want to hit him. “That comes off as pretty self-centered.”

He crossed his arms as he glared at me. “Call it what you like. If you were honest with yourself, you’d realize you’re the same way. You’re here asking me to do you a favor without thinking about me at all. So, my point is proven. If I’m not getting something out of this, then why would I do it? You’ll blow me off as soon as I give you what you want.”

He had a point. I was going to blow him off the second I had what I wanted. But the key difference was that I wasn’t doing this for myself. I was doing this for my brother. For what was left of my coven.

But we’d gone way off topic, and I was officially wasting time. “Fine. What do you want?”

“For you to finally stop fighting what’s already been agreed. You should’ve come to New York last year.”

Even if I’d wanted to, which I didn’t, Luciana never would’ve let me go last year. “How was I supposed to know that you wanted me there? I haven’t heard from you in months.”

“I told Luciana,” he said it like it should mean something to me.

I nearly smiled. He was giving me a piece of information that could carve a wedge between Luciana and the New York coven. “You’ll have to take your complaints to her, because she didn’t say a thing to me.”

His mouth dropped open. “Really?”

I studied him for a minute. All this time truly I’d thought Matt was working with Luciana, but maybe he wasn’t. If Luciana had lied to him about one thing, it stood to reason that she’d lied to him about other things as well. “Honestly. Do I look like I’m lying?”

He narrowed his gaze at me. “I don’t know.”

I shrugged. “Here’s the thing. Luciana wants to keep me around. I know you know what I specialize in—”

“Enhancing others’ energies.”

I nodded. “Right. Well, I do that for Luciana. And—as far as I know—the only thing Luciana wants is more power. By losing me, she loses power. So, why would she ever follow through with whatever bargain you two concocted?”

He leaned back in his chair, not saying a word.

“Why do you want me? Really?”

He looked at the ceiling, before apparently coming to some decision. “The same reason Luciana wants you.”

My jaw clenched as I took in his words. This was infuriating. Did everyone just want me for what I could do for them? “Well, I’m not marrying you. Even if you decide to help me today, I can’t promise that. Luciana has been controlling me for long enough. I really don’t think I can go back to coven life. Anywhere.” While I had him opening it up, I figured now was a great time to find out what Luciana was getting out of pretending to marry me off. Knowing that could mean the difference between defeating her or dying.