DX (A Crimson City Demon Novella)by Carolyn Jewel
Helen “Hell” Marshall just wants her old job back as an agent with Crimson City’s Internal-Operations. When her mentor brings her in for some contract work, she jumps at the chance. Her assignment? Track down and neutralize a demon on the loose in Los Angeles. Too bad she has to work with covert agent Jaden Lightfeather, and it’ really too bad when her ex-boyfriend… See more details below
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Helen “Hell” Marshall just wants her old job back as an agent with Crimson City’s Internal-Operations. When her mentor brings her in for some contract work, she jumps at the chance. Her assignment? Track down and neutralize a demon on the loose in Los Angeles. Too bad she has to work with covert agent Jaden Lightfeather, and it’ really too bad when her ex-boyfriend and vampire head of a criminal enterprise wants her back. Nothing is what it seems, not anyone or anything. This novella was originally published as part of the Crimson City anthology Shards of Crimson and is about 30,000 words long.
The way the briefing room went silent Hell Marshall knew she was on the outside of an inside joke. Jim West, Chief Division Agent for U.S. Internal-Operations in the City of Los Angeles, gripped the projector remote in one hand and a red penlight in the other. I-Ops was the law enforcement and surveillance arm of the government. Battlefield Operations was military, the muscle on the streets. I-Ops was pencil-pushers, spooks and cops and a few other things nobody admitted. West signaled one of the field agents to hit the lights. The room went dark. He clicked the remote and two seconds later Hell understood the silence. Shit.
“This is from a surveillance camera installed at the Golden Wing Spa and Health Center,” West said. The camera had been placed behind the reception desk, so the back of a perky blonde head occasionally blocked a portion of the screen. Tuan Ng was clearly visible in the right corner of the shot.
Hell didn’t move. Didn’t change her expression. West was looking at her. Everyone was looking at her. She could feel it, but she kept her eyes glued to the screen. She didn’t work for I-Ops anymore. They’d fired her ass nine months ago, and that meant her personal life was nobody’s fucking business. She was here because Milos Sanders, Director of I-Ops in Crimson City, was the only friend she had left. Well, that and the promises he’d made to get her back for this assignment.
She wished she had the nerve to give up L.A. and move to her aunt Lucy’s beach house in Bodega Bay. Her aunt wanted someone she trusted in the house. She could open a little coffee shop and serve killer espresso and sandwiches. At night she could sit on the porch, eat salt water taffy, breathe fresh air and watch the stars. It was a stupid fantasy, but it was all hers.
In the video, the perky receptionist kept looking in Tuan’s direction. Tuan Ng was movie-star handsome and, now that Hell wasn’t seeing him, notoriously available. If these jackass agents expected a scene, they were destined for disappointment. Her relationship with the vampire had been doomed from the start because he was a fang, and she wasn’t.
On screen, the lobby door opened and one of the most beautiful men Hell had ever seen in her life walked in. He wore loose trousers and no shirt, and he had the pecs, abs and everything else to pull off the look plus more. His black hair was held back by two narrow braids that started at his temples and secured his long hair in a pony tail. Silver threads gleamed in the braids. His skin bordered on bronze, and he was ripped. Seriously, beautifully, ripped without looking like he spent hours in the gym. What was a guy like that doing in a place like the Golden Wing?
If you had the money, the Golden Wing accommodated any and all consenting adult interactions, regardless of species. Tuan’s open-minded attitude cleared him a million and a half a week. A guy who looked like this one could have any woman he wanted with one flex of a pectoral. Flex the other and his beauty of choice would do any kinky thing he wanted. Mr. Gorgeous walked toward the reception desk camera. His eyes were a freakish pale amber. She’d never seen eyes quite that color.
“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked.
The man gestured and a flash of yellow light filled the screen. When it died down, the blonde was face down on the counter. Scarlet blood oozed around her head and dripped onto the floor. On screen, Tuan shouted. Six of his enforcers rushed into the lobby.
West paused the video and pointed his laser pen at the screen. “No need to identify him,” West said, centering the light on Tuan’s forehead. “But this—” the light shifted to the bare-chested major god who was, it seemed, a deranged killer “—is our DX. Demon of unknown origin.” Hell sat up. “For the uninformed in the room, Hell, he’s been identified as a Bak-Faru demon.”
She was an outsider now that she made her living as a private investigator. She didn’t want to be a security guard, walking around some stupid shopping mall waiting for criminals to steal all the panties in Victoria’s Secret.
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