“Fuck, you’re all assholes.” Sky moved into the lead and Nolan remained a step behind, so Sky couldn’t see him fighting his own grin. It was a funny mental image.
“We’re the assholes, but you’re the one who hasn’t told us yet what the dandy dogs look like,” Mad pointed out. “I mean, with a name like dandy, it paints a particular picture in the mind that is nonthreatening.”
Sky grumbled. He clutched his bag to his chest as he picked his way through the brush. Very little moonlight leaked through the leaves, forcing them to rely on their own night vision and the flashlights on their phones. Nolan was attempting to keep his directed in front of Sky’s feet, considering the necromancer had his hands full with his equipment.
“Maybe I’m not one hundred percent sure what they look like because I’ve never been insane enough to summon them. And neither has Grammy,” Sky groused.
“I’m gonna say they look like Anubis mixed with a nightmare,” Moon interjected in a low, soft voice.
Nolan jerked around to gaze at the blood witch. That was a unique description. But Moon wasn’t staring at any of them. He was gaping at a break in the trees where one of the golf fairways stretched in a pristine green carpet under the twinkling stars.
In the clearing stood three lean and wiry black figures that could have almost passed for skinny horses. Their heads were sculpted with long, pointed muzzles and even pointier ears. The dogs jerked their heads in their direction, eyes glowing like white moons as they reflected the thin moonlight.
One of them stood on their hind legs.
Nolan’s heart stopped for a second and then leaped into his throat, trying to escape and make a run for safety. The dog was over seven feet tall when standing. A chill swept through his body that had nothing to do with the chilly night air.
The dandy dogs were the things of nightmares. They made the behemoths Kevin and Bob seem like cuddly bunnies in comparison.
“Sky, you need to call a minion or a demon to handle these things right now,” Red demanded in a harsh, strangled whisper.
“We’ve got this,” the necromancer snapped, but Nolan was close enough to hear him swallow hard after he bit those words out. “Go slow. No sudden movements. Mad, flank to the left. Red, on the right. I need you to get the barriers up if they try to run. Moon, stay near Nolan. Keep him safe.”
Nolan’s ego didn’t even try to poke its head up and argue that he could take care of himself.
“Got it,” Moon confirmed.
From the corner of his eye, Nolan caught sight of the blood witch stepping closer to Nolan’s frozen form while the others moved to the edge of the tree line.
So far, the trio of dogs wasn’t acting anxious, just watching them as if not sure what to make of the witches who were insane enough to approach.
At the edge of the tree line, Sky stopped and bent, setting his bag of tricks on the ground. For whatever reason, the dogs didn’t like that. The one that had been standing on its hind legs dropped to all fours, its ears snapping back. All three growled, low, deep rumbles that echoed through Nolan’s chest, threatening to dislodge his soul. His heart ramped up to frantic pounding, trying to break free of his chest.
“Um…Sky…they don’t like that,” Red whispered.
The necromancer didn’t stop digging for spell ingredients. He clicked his tongue and used a sweet voice as he said, “What’s wrong, babies? Do you need a treat?”
The growling stopped. The one in the lead raised its ears and even cocked its head to the side. Why was he surprised? Of course the dandy dogs recognized the word “treat.” All dogs knew that word.
“You’re some sweet, lost babies. You need some treats and cuddles before we send you home, don’t you?” Sky continued in relentless baby talk that devolved into complete gibberish.
It didn’t matter. The dogs loved the tone and the constant repetition of the “t” word. The posture of all three dogs was relaxed now. Two were sitting, their long, skinny tails wagging behind them like deadly whips. The dog in the lead had its tongue hanging out the side of its mouth, which would have been adorable if not for the lethal rows of sharp teeth.
“Now that you’ve got them all worked up, do you even know what they eat?” Mad demanded in a quiet voice between clenched teeth.
Moon snorted. “What all scary predators eat—raw meat.”
“Oh, God. Please don’t tell me you’ve got deli slices stuffed in that bag,” Red moaned. “You know that won’t cut it.”
“No, chicken thighs. Barely a mouthful for them, but this is a snack. Not a meal,” Sky grumbled as he pulled out a gallon plastic bag of raw chicken.
That had the dogs’ attention. The two sitting rose, and all three approached Sky.
“Shit! Hurry! Get into position!” Sky commanded.
Nolan frowned. How the hell was he supposed to cast the portal spell to send the dogs back if he was busy with the chicken? He couldn’t.