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"I'll break your back like a dry twig in autumn." Alexia kept her look blasé and her stance relaxed as she gripped her sword in her right hand. She let her fangs show, knowing the demon in the front of the pack would realize she yearned for his sweet, delicious blood. It was no secret that vampires craved the blood of demons. Their blood was so much better than humans. Richer. Thicker.
In an alley just out of reach of the city lights, she would have to kill quickly, so taking blood was out of the question. Pity. Any human could come tumbling down this alley. She couldn't risk getting caught while playing with her food.
Two of the vampires eased back, putting more distance between them and her blade. The leader remained where he was, casting a look of distaste in her direction.
So he found her capacity as a female fighter lacking? He was in for quite a surprise.
His gaze traveled over her body. Her low-rise jeans and white tank hugged every muscle on her petite frame. She didn't like to be hindered by loose-fitting clothing while she was in the hunt-and-kill mode. Besides, the woman in her appreciated the approving glances of the men she fought--no matter what creature they happened to be.
Hours of fighting and working out ensured she had less than eight percent body fat. There wasn't a day that went by that she didn't break a sweat.
The demon's gaze finally settled on her face. "Your reputation is impressive."
She kept her focus trained on him, staying alert to any movement he may make, unwilling to let petty words distract her. The shit-talking during a fight was her favorite game, and she now had a worthy opponent to play with her. Accordingto the information given to her by the Alliance, Belial was a demon from the first fall--her favorite type.
The demons who fell with Lucifer were selfish, ignorant bastards who were focused on their own powers. Always looking for ways to usurp their Creator. As if that was ever going to happen.
Ambrose, her boss and leader of the Alliance, had given her the order to take out this demon and his pack of vamp followers. Belial came with an impressive folder that contained a massive list of the humans he had killed.
The bastard was going down.
"That's a very big sword you have. Do you know how to use it, or is it merely for show?"
His face remained impassive. He hadn't moved and he gave no indication of fear.
It had been a long time since she had met anyone equal to her speed and strength. Ambrose, a fallen angel and the first vampire in history, was above her skill level, but he was married. Quite unfortunate, that. He was unrivaled, and gorgeous beyond compare.
As was she, in both departments. Vanity did not rule her, but she knew what her looks could get her. A fighter was always conscious of their weapons and their skill, and she considered her beauty to be a weapon of grave importance.
Ambrose created the Alliance in the thirteenth century when it became obvious that some vampires lost something in transition. That something being intelligence, morals or any sense of humanity. Then there were those vampires who believed killing humans was a rite of passage. The Alliance's assassins were trained to stop such vampires.
Being a part of the Alliance was her sole priority and her only love. The organization was made up of vampires, the very elite of their species. They kept the vampire community in line, and she was one of their top assassins.
Alexia had put in her application for the Alliance the day she was first able to walk in sunlight, which was their only stipulation for getting hired. Skills could be learned, but being a daywalker was integral to the job. That was over seven hundred years ago. She'd been kicking ass ever since.
Men from every race, every continent and every skill level had tried to bring her down. Her first confrontation had been with swords, her personal favorite. Eventually she had a run-in with bows. Next had come the firearms and grenades. Shotguns, high-powered rifles and AK47s had been used against her lithe frame for years. Hell, she'd been targeted with a surface-to-air missile once.
All had failed.
She prayed Belial would take her down with brute strength. God, how she wanted it. She would never admit to anyone the way she wished to be defeated on the battlefield. It had been so long since a man had overcome her. Hundreds of years.
Please, Belial. I can't date a man I can throw around. I need a challenge.
And Lord Almighty, he looked like one. His black hair was long, slicked back to show his angular jawline and piercing green eyes. His body was perfection, and since he wore no shirt with his low-rise jeans she could feast her eyes on every inch of his toned chest. She'd caught him offering up a pretty brunette to his vampires. Apparently the vamps had wanted her blood, and Belial had wanted her body.
One of his men dropped his sword and ran, his boots pounding against the wet pavement and echoing in the alley.
That left only one vamp standing behind Belial.
He made no move. He was using her tactic. She always waited for her opponent to make the first move, because it was usually done in anger. Sloppy and ineffective. She loathed making the first move.
The last follower dropped his weapon and ran.
What the fuck? She hadn't done anything yet. She didn't even have her kick-ass-and-take-names face on. She was merely waiting. Contemplating what route she should take.
Come on, Belial. Don't chicken out. Kick my ass. Make me cry.
As if sensing her thoughts, he lunged, plunging his sword in the direction of her abdomen. It was a terrible first move, and one easily blocked. Child's play.
"Scared, pretty Belial? Are you going to run away like your pathetic men?"
Anger swallowed his eyes, leaving them mere slits. He growled, swinging his sword in a straight line in front of her face. She only backed up. She couldn't believe Belial had once been a mighty Warrior Angel. Impossible.
"What are you doing, Bepup? You look like you work out, but you fight like a neutered puppy. All dick and no--"
He sprang forward, trying to take her head from her shoulders with his next blow. She was forced to lean back and fall into a back flip to regain her balance, which she did with ease. "--balls."
She let him come at her a few more times, growing bored with his inexperience. Belial was going to end up like all the other rejects she fought.
He was strong, she'd give him that. As their swords met in a frenzy of dancing steel, her arm stung from the force he was using. What he had in strength he lacked in tactic.
She wasted no more time on his piss-poor fighting skills, and quickly backed him up against a wall, her sword a whisper in the air as she sliced a shallow line across his chest, a warning of what would come.
Within seconds he dropped his sword and held up his hands. His eyes widened in panic. There it was, just another male she had defeated.
Damn, she hated when they did that. Where were the warriors of old? Those who fought to the death as if unafraid of what awaited them in the other realm. "Pick up your sword."
"I'll swear off humans. I will not kill for pleasure."
Yeah, right. She'd heard that one before. "Pick up your weapon and die like a man," she growled.
He vigorously shook his head. As seconds stretched on he began to look calmer. The fool thought she wouldn't kill him if he had no weapon.
He'd made a fatal mistake.
In one fluid movement she stepped back and swung her sword in a familiar arch. His head fell away from his body, making a dull, hollow sound as it bounced off the concrete. The headless corpse crumbled to the ground in a twisted heap.
What a pathetic piece of flesh.
It was times like these she wished vampires and demons did combust into ash, as the lore suggested. It would make the cleanup easier. Instead, their bodies decayed as slowly as a human's, though a demon's soul went straight to the pit.
See ya, wouldn't want to be ya, asshole.
She unclipped her cell from her belt and called Al. He cleaned up the bodies in this part of Los Angeles.
"Where at?" he answered, already aware of what the call was for.
"Fifth and E. Just one."
"Just one?" He sighed. "You're slacking off."
She shook her head even though he couldn't see her, and surveyed her surroundings. The alley was damp and dark, a storm having just passed through.
All of the other pricks had run off. She didn't feel like giving chase, but knew she had no other choice. She had to complete her assignment and then report back to Ambrose. "They ran."
"Yeah, I can see why. Staring at your five-foot-four frame and your blonde highlighted hair would freak me out too."
"Keep talking smack, old man."
He laughed, dismissing her threat. "You know you love me."
"Like the flu on Christmas morning."
She shut her cell and clipped it back on her belt. Now she would have to search for those pathetic excuses for vampires. Sure, they could terrorize humans, but when it came to playing with someone who contained their own powers they turned and fled.
With a frustrated sigh she walked in the direction they disappeared to. She'd have to use her senses to pick up their scent; the scent of a little vampire going wee, wee, wee, all the way in his pants.
As she made her way out of the alley she stopped and turned to her right, picking up a different scent. This one belonged to a demon, not a vampire.
Demons were so much more fun to kill than vampires, the exception being Belial. Normally they gave one hell of a fight.
If it was a demon from the second fall, the fall led by Asmodeus, she might stop and throw a beer back with him. Those demons weren't so bad, and in fact they helped kill off the Nephilim, nasty creatures even she tried to avoid.
Right before The Flood, Asmodeus and two hundred of his brother angels fell because they wanted to experience what the humans had been given. They were called Holy Watchers in Heaven, and their sole job was to watch over the humans, who were being terrorized by Lucifer's demons.
Instead of protecting them, they tried to become them. In doing so they were called by a new name. Rebel Watchers. When they mated with the humans a race of Nephilim were born, which resulted in the purifying Flood.
Nowadays those demons fit in with the population, and they were decent enough. But Lucifer's demons were still a problem.
If he turned out to be one of Lucifer's demons she would have to take him out.
Ambrose didn't agree with any killing she did off the clock, but what was right and fair would remain so, whether she had paperwork on the demon or not. Demons from the first fall were centered on power. They had refused to play second fiddle to a bunch of humans, thinking they were superior.
The demons that had fallen with Asmodeus in the Second Angelic Revolt had fallen out of pure lust. She could totally understand that reasoning. Hell, she wanted to get her ass handed to her during a fight just so she could lay a guy. She was pathetic.
Demon or vampire. She had to make a decision. Chase after vampire scum who ran from the sight of a petite female, or track down a demonic ass-kicking that would hopefully shed some excitement on her rather boring night.
She turned down the alley, following the scent of the demon--spicy, dangerous and highly turbulent. They exuded an aura unlike any other creature, and no wonder. They had been God's first creation. They were his messengers of love and wrath. Angels of death and destruction. They had no problem getting a job done, and would take any measures necessary to get the job done right.
Still, with all of those impressive attributes, one would think she would have a hard time taking one down. Not so. If she had ever come across a demon who could give her a serious run for her money, she'd still be chained to his bed playing victim.
Which begged the question; why were her fantasies so wrapped around her being helpless and fragile? She was anything but those things. Why did she want to feel dominated?
She stalked down another alley, this one littered with trash and the homeless who sat against the walls of the buildings. The demon was nowhere to be seen. She kept her gaze averted as she passed the hungry. The desperation she read in their eyes would pull her out of her hunt-and-kill mode. She needed to stay alert.
At the end of the alleyway she turned to the left, catching another whiff of the demon. She was close enough now to smell a hint of cologne. The musky scent settled over her body like a cloak. A reminder of what could be.
What would it be like to bury her face into a man's neck as he wrapped his arms around her and held her through the night? To feel his solid, masculine form against her equally solid, yet shapely form? Skin to skin.
That thought ruined her fantasy. She needed to start eating a little junk food here and there. She had nothing for a man to grab on--
An arm dropped out of nowhere, hooked around her neck and flipped her to the ground. Her head thwacked against the cement as she landed flat on her back.
Son of a bitch.
Had she not been a vampire that move would have killed her. So deep in her fantasy, she had let her guard down. She cursed her lack of concentration. She needed to get laid something fierce.
Before she could spring up, a boot came down on the tender flesh of her neck. A rather large, black military boot that connected to faded denim jeans and a black T-shirt. The demon's hair was short, messy and ... highlighted? Damn. The one guy who literally got her on her back was gay. Just her luck.
Pissed beyond belief that she had been bested by a Ricky Martin look-alike, she grabbed her concealed dagger from the inside of her leather boot and buried it in his calf muscle.
He grunted in pain and she was out of his hold. She sprang to her feet. He'd ignored the first rule in fighting; always believe the enemy has a weapon. Concealed weapons were her forte. Anyone who had heard of Alexia knew she was a chameleon when it came to hidden daggers.
"I suppose I deserve that." He pulled the dagger from his leg with an ease that amazed her, and held onto her weapon with blood running down his hand.
"Is there something I can help you with?" she asked sweetly. "Like where to stow that sword strapped to your waist?"
He smiled, unfazed by her remark. This might turn out to be fun.
"If your suggestion concerns any part of my derrière I would be saying no, thank you. I like the sword right where it is."
Smart. Quick. And he'd gotten one over on her. Not bad. He wasn't hard to look at, either. Though not generally her type, he had appealing attributes. His light green eyes and black hair made him look like every other run-of-the-mill demon. Except for the blond tips in his hair.
"Too bad, Ricky. You've forced me to mend my tattered reputation." She kept her stance easy, not allowing her foe to see she was ready to strike.
"Yeah, you remind me of a badly dressed Ricky Martin. All tousled up and nowhere to go but down."
He winced. "Ouch. That's insulting."
She smiled. Time to hit him under his macho belt. "Don't worry. Batting for the other team is en vogue now. Highly accepted. I'm sure all your demonic pals know. Right?"
His face darkened. Her tactic was working.
He braced his legs apart, his thigh muscles bunching under the denim, anticipating any move she might make. "I'd have to say your words leave me no choice but to turn you over my knee and give you a walloping of biblical proportions, though I wouldn't want to ruin your fantasy as to my personal tastes."
Her stomach twisted into a knot at the erotic image his words brought to mind. Her core muscles tightened. Too bad he was gay. "Sounds like horrendous torture. Arousal by the Queen of Mean." She tried keeping the smirk off her face. "Please don't hurt me, Ricky, I'm begging."
Was she flirting with him? Of course she was. She always flirted with those of the soon-to-be departed. For some reason this felt like more. He was trading her insult for insult, proving he contained a warped sense of humor.
"If you were serious about getting out of such torture, you would be on your knees with--"
Out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of a shadow as it leapt from the wall. It spun about her, causing her hair to blow around her face. Before she could raise her sword against the offending anomaly it was gone.
And so was Ricky.
The first male who had turned her on in over two hundred years.