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Chapter 1

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Dick Peterson slips the sheet of paper across his slanted office desk, the scraping sound making the tips of my claws come out.

Okay, his name isn’t actually Dick—it’s Dan, but I like to call him Dick.

“Two thousand,” he says, his voice monotone. He’s either bored or doesn’t give a damn.

The guy’s a total douchebag. Every time he offers me a job with that nonchalant attitude of his, all I want to do is shove some Prozac down his throat.

When I don’t respond, the patchy moustache over his lip twitches and he wipes a line of drool off his chin. Along with it come doughnut crumbs and strawberry filling. It takes everything in me not to grab him by the greasy hair on his head and smash his face into the dozens of sticky mug rings on his desk.

The offer of two thousand dollars to kill someone is extremely insulting. My usual going rate starts at ten grand—and that’s cheap. Clenching my jaw, I breathe out slowly, reminding myself that this is what happens when I start a new life.

Rebel Miller—that’s my new name.

New identity, new passport, new city, new body.

Some might say being a succubus isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but if you ask me, it’s pretty damn awesome. Even more so when you have a thousand years of experience under your belt. Maybe that’s why this is so insulting. This guy has no idea what I’m capable of, but that’s the problem with this line of work; you have to make a name for yourself, which isn’t exactly easy when your slate’s been wiped clean.

Dick reaches for another doughnut, and I pull my tank top down to showcase what this new body has to offer—big round boobs that make you want to sink your teeth into them. And all-natural, might I add. Along with this, I gave myself a perfect hourglass shape: that bootylicious bottom guys and girls stare at every time I walk down the street and hips so curvaceous I make bystanders fantasize about gripping them from behind.

Pulling my long blond hair up into a ponytail, I lean forward, bite my lip, and throw my Lure out at Dick. “Oh, Dan… I’m sure we can come to some sort of agreement. I think five thousand would be more reasonable for the amount of professionalism I can offer.” My eyes roll down toward the underneath area of his desk.

I can typically get just about anyone to want with my looks, but using my succubus Lure guarantees it. It’s almost a form of brainwashing, if you will. Anyone who gets caught in my Lure ends up drooling over me like a dog over a steaming seared steak.

But for some reason, it isn’t working on Dan.

“The price ain’t negotiable. And you’re a first-timer. Don’t know how you managed to find me, but ya did, and now you gotta prove yourself before we can discuss negotiating your pay.”

I’m a bit taken aback; my Lure always works—well, almost always. Some fae are immune to it. I won’t go into detail about all the different demons and faeries that can escape my bittersweet touch, but it’s obvious Dick here appears to be one of them. I should have known walking in here. His office, being in the middle of nowhere—all right, the town’s called Jormane—looks like something one might find in the poorest neighborhoods of big nearby cities.

Some days, I miss the big city, but I spent my last thirty years working in New York City, and I figured it was time for a change. Besides, thirty years is pretty much the maximum period of time I can go pretending to be human. No matter how much skin product someone uses, or how regularly they exercise, no one can look the same age for that long. My cover? I always give myself the body of a thirty-year-old. That way, I can pass as someone in her twenties and also pass as a hot forty-year-old. On paper, once I’ve reached my late forties, it gets to be a bit suspicious. And unless I want to live in the shadows as the vampires do—without money, identification, or housing—I have to keep resetting the clock, along with my body.

At some point, I’ll make my way back to the big city. I’m considering San Halos, which is about an hour from here and is known for its large fae population, but we’ll see. I think I’ll lay low for a while.

Pushing my tongue against my cheek, I gaze around Dan’s office, wondering how long I’ll survive this small-town life. His floorboards are uneven and split in certain areas, and the large blindless window behind him is so smeared with greasy handprints you’d think this space, having likely never been cleaned, used to be a daycare.

Dick chews loudly as bits and pieces of his crispy cream doughnut sprinkle out onto his desk and into his mug of coffee. “Take it or leave it, lady.”

If I had something else to fall back on, I’d leave it. Especially given that people who pay two thousand dollars to have someone killed are often involved in gangs or drug trafficking. It’s a risky business, and if you want it done right, you want a professional handling the case. That means whoever put in the request is desperate to get rid of someone. Should I feel bad? Maybe. But I don’t, and here’s why—if someone is willing to pay such a cheap price to have someone taken out, it means they’re desperate, and when someone is desperate, they’ll go to almost any length to get what they want.

So at the end of the day, my mark should be thanking me.

If I don’t do the job, someone else will… likely violently. What I offer is way more humane, and quite honestly, a privilege. Who wouldn’t want to meet their fate in the middle of the most amazing sex of their life?

Besides, I’m starving. If I don’t eat soon, I’ll become depleted of energy, and I’d much rather get paid to feed.

Breathing in the stench of cigarette and stale doughnut, I close my eyes. “All right. What’s his name?”

“All right there on the paper, sweetheart.”

He doesn’t even bother looking up at me. Instead, he wiggles a slimy finger at the poorly printed sheet of paper and takes a sip of his coffee.

“Has this circulated?” I ask.

Sighing, he slams his coffee mug down. From underneath his thick bushy eyebrows comes another flat-lidded gaze. “Lady, does this look like an interrogation room?”

See? A dick.

“I like to stay informed,” I say. “I want to ensure I do this right—”

“Just kill the man, okay? Here.” He slides me a burner flip phone. “Take a picture of the body, bring it back, and you get paid. Do you need me to write you a step-by-step guide? ’Cause I charge extra for that.”

Was that supposed to be a joke? Because it wasn’t funny.

Snatching the piece of paper and the phone, I stand, the rusted chair under me catching one of the cracked floorboards. “I’ll have it done by tomorrow night, and I expect payment in cash.”

He nods absentmindedly and takes another sip of his coffee.

There’s no point arguing with a man like Dick. For his own sake, I hope he has my money by the time I get back. Without a word, I step out of his office and slam his door behind me. At the same time, the handle tears right off and a huge cloud of dust explodes over my head.

Staring at the rusted door handle in my hand, I smile. This is exactly why people like Dick shouldn’t make people like me angry. No one wants an immortal with super strength as an enemy.

 

 

Chapter 2

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Staring at the sheet of paper in my hands, I sweep the dozens of empty coffee cups off my passenger seat and drop my new phone. This ten-year-old Honda Civic might be nothing like my old BMW, but it gets me from point A to point B. Besides, Civics are reliable and it was the best car available on the lot—the only lot known for selling vehicles without asking questions. I might have a new identity, but forking up fifty grand for a nice ride is a sure way to get the authorities involved. I’m biding my time. Once I get a front business up and running, I’ll be better equipped to start laundering my cash.

This hunk of junk might not be as comfortable as the luxury vehicles I’m used to, but it’s not like I drive all that often. At night, I prefer to fly, even though it’s against the law for people of the Underworld to reveal their true selves to feebles, or as feebles call themselves, humans. If I get caught flying, the Council of Elders will send people after me.

That’s if I get caught. I’ve been doing this for centuries, and they have yet to catch me.

I stare at the slip of paper. Although the ink is faded and the text is difficult to read, the information is all there:

Name: Ross Xtreme

Okay, it’s clear that’s some sort of street name. What a dork. I’ll be able to find the guy, but that goes to show you how unprofessional Dick is. He shouldn’t be accepting requests without receiving full legal names.

Date of birth: Unknown

Areas spotted: Trinity, King Street, Industrial Avenue

Under the text is a blurry image of a man wearing a blue baseball cap. At the front of the hat is a logo of some kind… A crown perhaps? In the picture, he’s reaching for his ear, and on his left forearm is a tattoo of a chain. It’s ugly as hell, but who am I to judge?

Trinity… that’s the town’s main nightclub. It isn’t much, but a lot of young people go there to party on weekends. As luck would have it, it’s Friday.

I set the key in my ignition and start the car. It rumbles a bit longer than I’d like, but the engine turns over. Grumbling to myself, I stiffen my back and stare at my bright blue eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Six months… maybe a year,” I tell myself, “and you’ll be rolling in money again.”

Rolling in money is an understatement. In New York City, I owned a million-dollar condo, three cars, and a motorcycle. A bit much? Maybe. But I’m a thousand years old. I need toys and pretty things to keep my life interesting.

I scan over the other two locations: King Street and Industrial Avenue.

This information is pretty much useless. Chances are the guy was spotted doing a drug deal once or twice, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be going back to either of those locations. I’ll check them out if nothing turns up in Trinity, but I’m certain I’ll get all the information I need tonight.

All I need is a hot outfit to get this job done.

And that… I have.

Starting a new life might mean giving up my assets, but clothes and weapons will continue to follow me wherever I go. Pushing the gearshift into drive, I speed through the streets of Jormane and make my way to my temporary home.

As I park alongside the road, dozens of eyes turn on me. Although not as dangerous of a neighborhood as some in the Big Apple, this place isn’t a gem, either. Litter decorates the lawns as if someone placed it there on purpose to cover bare patches of grass. Some of the townhomes have interlock, and I wish they didn’t. Weeds have popped up so far through the cracks it’s hard to tell there’s interlock paving in the first place.

One old man steps out of his slanted house and makes his way toward his dying garden. With trembling hands, he waters it, and when he catches me staring through my passenger window, he pulls his upper lip back to reveal a set of sharp teeth. To everyone else in the neighborhood, the guy looks like a poor schmuck trying to make the best of a crappy situation.

But to me—being fae, or as some fae-haters like to call me, a demon—I see who he truly is.

A Crimmus demon.

They aren’t worth much in the sense that they’re powerless. His red, hideous skin gives him away, although through the eyes of a feeble, he’s simply an old man. Crimmus demons may be strong and immortal, but I’m stronger, smarter, and more powerful.

They don’t scare me.

Not much scares me these days, aside from insects. Despite having traveled to various dimensions and planets full of strange-looking creatures, I can’t stomach the little bastards. I’d rather face an entire coven of vampires than have to walk into a dark room filled with spiderwebs.

With a swing of my upper body, I pull myself out of my little Honda Civic and flash the Crimmus demon my set of fangs. It’s enough to make him snap his head sideways and focus on the weeds in his garden. With my three-inch heel, I kick my car door shut and make my way to my apartment building. It’s the only one in town and stands tall with a total of ten stories.

Taking it all in—the chipped bricks and the broken windows—I can’t help but feel like I’m staring at one of New York City’s offspring. Maybe in a few years, they’ll add more floors and it will look like an actual apartment building instead of a runt.

As I make my way to the elevator, a few other residents glance sideways at me as if trying to figure which celebrity I am. I have that effect on people, especially in a small town like this. That’s what being a succubus is all about—luring people in, even when I’m not trying.

The second I step into the elevator, two middle-aged men clad in construction gear inch closer to me.

“Hey there,” one of them says.

With my head held high and aviator glasses still on, I stare straight ahead. “Not happening.”

His lips make a sticky sound behind me, like he’s trying to taste my perfume. I ignore him, waiting for the elevator to reach their floor. It does at last, a soft dinging sound resonating around us.

Unsurprisingly, neither one of them steps out.

Rolling my eyes, I stick my leather boot between the doors before they close. “Whose stop is this?”

Nothing.

This isn’t the first time men try to follow me to where I’m going, and it won’t be the last.

Sighing, I spin around and slap a hand on my curvy hip. Their jaws immediately go slack.

Behind me, the door goes to shut again, and I kick a leg backward.

“Hello, boys.”

The man on the right wipes a line of drool off his chin.

“Do either of you know where I can find the nearest bar? I’m just dying to wet my… throat.”

This time, the man on the left swallows hard, a loud gulp echoing throughout the elevator.

“Um…” he stammers. “Yeah. There’s Peterson’s Pub right ’round dat corner over there.”

He points at nothing.

Smiling, I tilt my head. “Why don’t you both meet me there in… oh, I don’t know, twenty minutes?”

Grins stretch their faces so fast it looks like their cheeks are being yanked by invisible wires.

When they don’t budge, I tilt my head forward and give them both a full up-and-down look over my sunglasses. Wiggling a finger in the air, I say, “I expect you both to get cleaned up, first.”

They nod briskly, staring at me like obedient dogs. I’m about to tell them to get a move on when they charge for the door at the same time.

“Louis, watch it!”

“You watch it, man.”

They elbow each other, trying to get through the door, so I do what any Good Samaritan would do—I press my heel into the one nearest to me and apply a bit of pressure.

Being a succubus, a bit of pressure is like pointing a garden hose at a freshly seeded lawn and having pressure come out at 3000 psi. With a yelp, both men go flying out of the elevator and tumble atop each other in the hallway of the third floor. The thickest of the two smashes his head into the drywall, creating a dent.

“Whoops,” I say, placing a finger over my plush lips.

He rubs the back of his head and looks toward me, but the doors close in the nick of time.

“Idiots,” I say.

The elevator continues up to the tenth floor and opens with another ding. I make my way to apartment number 1026, which is conveniently located at the far back corner. It’s also the only room with a decent patio, hence why I chose it.

I walk into the stench of feeble but remind myself that I won’t be here long. Besides, I don’t have much longer before the tenant comes back. Two days ago, which coincidentally was also the same night I flew onto her balcony and forced my way inside, the tenant agreed to take a little vacation. Five grand in cash will get most people to leave their home for a few days, and Calla was no exception when I offered her the envelope. I may or may not have made the offer after pleasuring her for hours, but that’s irrelevant. She’d have taken the money and left anyway.

I’d say that was pretty damn generous of me, given that I could have sucked her dry and dropped her body in a river. But those days are far behind me. It’s taken a few centuries to move past my anger and to control my powers, but I’m finally here.

Being a hired hitwoman is pretty new, too.

When I moved to New York City, I found myself patrolling the streets at night, hoping to find someone worth feeding off of. The problem with hunting down feebles is that you never know whether or not they’re innocent. And feeding off fae, well… it isn’t as fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll choose fae over nothing, but feebles have a certain je ne sais quoi to them. Their mortality and zest for life give their energy that extra kick I crave so much. Maybe that, and the fear.

March 2, 1987.

I’ll never forget the date. It was the first time someone offered me cash to take someone out, ultimately kickstarting my career as a hired hitwoman.

It’s a fulfilling career because everybody wins. My mark—who is destined to get killed, if not by me then by someone else—dies a beautiful death. And me? I get paid and I get laid.

God, I love my job.

 

 

Chapter 3

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I check the lock once, twice, and then a third time. The act itself might be a bit of a compulsion, but anyone else in my shoes would do the same thing. This old trunk of mine has over a million dollars in cash waiting to be spent, and that doesn’t even include the sale of my condo. Instead, I had Ouru take my sale money to pay up my century-old debt and to ensure he’ll continue to provide me his services.

By services, I mean identity changes whenever I need them. He makes me disappear and creates a new identity for me on paper. It was easier to get away with crap way back when, but the moment they created photographic identification in 1876, things got a bit more complicated for me. Fortunately, that’s when I met Ouru. He is one of a kind, with wrinkled skin pulled back in a ponytail and a skeletal body that makes him appear emaciated. He isn’t—that’s just what it is to be a Weizar demon. There aren’t many of them left on this planet, which is unfortunate. They’re all about peace, so much so that they’re often referred to as the “Buddha demon”—two words that should never be used together.

He never asks for money, which I may have taken advantage of, but all of that ended when I gave him half a million dollars. The rest of my cash, well, that’s all job-related.

So now, the plan is simple: as soon as I can get a bit of cash flow going, I’ll start my front business and buy myself a real house again. Purchasing a house with cash isn’t the easiest thing to do, but my Lure can get almost anyone to shut their mouth… or open it; it all depends on what I’m looking for.

The hard part is building my credit. All right, it isn’t hard; it’s time-consuming and I’m not a patient person.

Why does the twenty-first century have to be so difficult?

Sighing, I make my way over to my oversized luggage bag, reach inside, and pull out my laptop along with a warm Red Bull. If there’s one thing I learned about staying in people’s houses, it’s ensuring I have access to their internet. On Calla’s coffee table is a sticky note with her Wi-Fi password: OrangeAT91, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.

I connect, launch my VPN, and get cracking.

It’s amazing what you can dig up on people these days, particularly when you use an open-source operating system like Linux and you know what you’re doing. I crack my Red Bull open, lean back, and place my laptop on my lap.

After ten minutes of clicking and research, I find what I need, which explains why this mark is so damn cheap. This is like taking candy from a baby—a sleeping baby who has never eaten candy before.

Ross Xtreme:

Real name: Ronny Echkinson.

Charges:

  1. Aggravated assault with a weapon

  2. Larceny

  3. Drug possession

Age: 42

Prison time: 6 years

If I’m reading this right, the dude got out of prison last week. He must have pissed off quite a few people to attract a hit. I don’t document any of this. Rule number one? Never leave a trace. If someone were to ever get a hold of my laptop, despite all the protective measures I’ve put into place, they’d find nothing. I’d be a moron to keep a Word document full of information on my murder victims.

My VPN protects me, along with Calla, being that I’m borrowing her internet. What a lot of people don’t realize is that internet providers keep track of internet browsing history: websites visited, time spent on them, and even geographical locations.

Thanks to my trusty VPN, I’m logged in through France with a different IP address.

I chug the rest of my drink, place my empty down, and make my way over to my travel luggage. From it, I extract my favorite skintight black dress with an open back, along with my three-inch gold heels.

I’m betting Ross is going to be at Trinity tonight, and if he isn’t, someone will know where he is. While I could use brute force to get what I want, I’d prefer not to make enemies in this town.

I slip into my dress and heels, grab my case of makeup, and make my way over to Calla’s bathroom. I plug in her straightener and stare at myself as I wait for it to heat up.

It’s a strange feeling to look at a reflection that’s different from the one you’ve known for the last thirty years. Changing identities isn’t easy. It’s downright exhausting and painful, but it has to be done. Leaning forward, I purse my lips and apply a thick layer of red lipstick.

“Lucky for you, Ross, I’m your hitwoman.”

Smiling, I allow my true self to come through—black horns, long silver-white hair, icy blue eyes, and claws so sharp I have to avoid making a fist. On either side of me, I expand my black leathery wings, filling the entire bathroom. This is my fae form, my true self that’s remained intact ever since I was young. This is also the last sight Ross will see before I suck out his life force, and while to anyone else it may be terrifying, my reflection brings me comfort.

I lick my lips, my fangs poking out on either side of my tongue, and kiss the air in front of me.

“Nice to see you again.”

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