A little over two weeks until the release of Midnight's Emissary. Here is a short teaser to tide you over until it comes out. Happy Reading!
“He will see you now.”
Jerry was seated behind a mammoth desk, twice the size of Beatrix’s. If you put the two desks beside one another, hers would look like something built for a child whereas Jerry’s was built for a man-sized giant.
When a person saw Jerry for the first time, they were often struck dumb at his size. His muscles had muscles and one oversized hand could engulf my skull and probably crush it with barely a thought. He couldn’t walk more than a few feet down the street without getting asked what football team he played for. People gave him crazy eyes when he acted like he’d never heard of the sport before.
His face and body weren’t the type you’d want to meet in an alley after dark or in the day or pretty much anywhere for that matter. Despite a face that said he could rip out your spleen and feed it to you without ever losing a minute of sleep, he was attractive enough in an intense, could kill you by breathing on you, kind of way. His brown hair never looked brushed and stuck out in weird tufts from his head.
For all that he could kill with one frown, he was a good boss. Probably the best I’d ever had. I owed him, even if he didn’t give me this job out of the goodness of his heart but as a favor to someone he owed. The result was the same. Protection from what would have been even more monumental changes to an already upended life and a paycheck, that while it wasn’t going to have me rolling in luxury, at least allowed me to be independent and take care of myself. What more could you ask for?
“Sit,” his deep voice rumbled.
I sat without saying anything. Jerry was a little intimidating at the best of times and judging from the tense set of his shoulder’s this wasn’t going to be one of them. It would be wise to walk softly until I knew a little more of what was going on.
He continued reading the papers in front of him, turning the page and carefully reading the next. My lips quirked at the sight of a pair of black framed glasses perching on his nose.
I practiced the patience I learned standing in countless formations while in the military. I held still, thinking about nothing in particular. That was the trick to waiting. You didn’t focus, not on the time, the frustration or that itch that was nagging at the middle of your back. You just existed. The alternative was to compose mental lists of ways to escape your mom’s attention on your failed career prospects. They both accomplished the task of taking you out of the endless tedium of waiting.
“I have a job for you,” Jerry said, without looking up from his papers.
I figured. It’s not like we got together outside of work and went looking for teenagers to mug.
When he didn’t seem inclined to continue, I prodded. “And that job is?”
“I took a big risk when I pulled you into my company.”
I digested that statement. It didn’t tell me what he wanted from me. It also didn’t give me warm fuzzies about this job, with him starting the conversation by mentioning the risks he’d taken to shelter me from the vampires finding out about my existence. That’s the sort of statement you usually made when you were planning to call in a favor. Especially since I was supposed to stay off the radar. That went topsy turvy last fall.
We’d both been waiting with baited breath to see what the vampires would do once they found out a vampire who hadn’t been through the one hundred years of indentured service to a clan was running around free and unrestrained. It definitely didn’t help that they now knew I’d never received any training in how to curb my appetite for blood or deal with all the other challenges being of the fanged variety presented.
Liam, the enforcer who’d run across me in an investigation, had nearly blown a gasket when he discovered my existence. Evidently, the bite and run was frowned upon. My sire was in a lot of trouble if Sir Cranky Pants, the name I gave Liam, ever caught up to him. Or so I’m assured. Not sure how much I believe that, but I’m willing to keep an open mind until it happens.
“I’m aware,” I finally said.
“Now that the vampires know of your existence, it changes things.”
Hold up a minute. Was he firing me? That couldn’t happen. That could NOT happen. I’ve never been fired before. Never. Not once. I wasn’t prepared to be fired now. I needed this job to survive.
“Jerry, you know I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and if it’s the vampires you’re worried about, I’ve got the sorcerer’s mark to protect me.”
“Only you would think a sorcerer’s mark is there to protect you.” He gave me a put out look from beneath his bushy eyebrows.
I gave a mental shrug, conceding his point. It might not have been placed there to protect me per se but I’d managed to manipulate events enough that the effect was the same.
“You may be protected, but everyone who gave shelter to you or hid your existence is not. The vampires could decide to claim recompense from myself and the Captain.”
Yes, I could see how that would be worrisome to him. At the same time, he’d known the risks. Better than I did even.
This also still didn’t tell me why he was bringing this all up now. Months after my run in with Liam.
He took a deep breath and slid a square piece of paper to me. “I have a job for you.”
Puzzled, I took the post-it size piece of paper and glanced at the name and address on it.
9:00 p.m. tomorrow night, third booth from the back.
Don’t be late.
I didn’t get it. What was all the seriousness about if this was just another job? There had to be something more.
“This run will require a little bit more from you. It’s not the average pick up and drop off.”
“What does that mean?”
He was silent, his face creased with lines. He seemed almost worried, which was a little scary. Jerry didn’t get worried. For the most part he was as calm and steady as a rock. Nothing fazed him.
“You’ll see when you get there.”