Read an Excerpt
Ace Books by Ilona Andrews
Excerpt from Magic Shifts
Excerpt from On the Edge
Excerpt from Gunmetal Magic
About the Author
I was ten feet from the office door of Cutting Edge Investigations when I heard the phone ring inside. Unfortunately, the key to the office was in my sweatshirt pocket, which at the moment was also full of pale pink slime dripping from the tentacles resting on my shoulders. The tentacles weighed about seventy pounds and my shoulders really didn’t like it.
Behind me, Andrea, my best friend and partner in crime solving, shifted the bulbous mass of flesh that was the rest of the creature, rearranging it. “Phone.”
“I hear it.” I dug in my pocket, all but glued shut by slime. Cold wetness slipped through my fingers. Ew.
“Kate, it could be a client.”
“I’m trying to find the key.”
Clients meant money, and money was in short supply. Cutting Edge had opened its doors three months ago, and while we were getting a trickle of paying jobs, most of them were lousy. Despite a good recommendation from the Red Guard, the premier bodyguard outfit in Atlanta, clients weren’t knocking down our door to hire us.
Our world was beset by magic waves. They flooded us at random, smothering technology and leaving monsters in their wake. One moment you had rogue mages spitting fireballs and lightning, the next the magic would vanish, and the cops would gun down said mages with their now-operational firearms.
Sadly, the consequences of the magic waves didn’t always vanish with them, and Atlanta by necessity had spawned many agencies to deal with magic hazmat. All of them had been in business a lot longer than us: the cops, the Mercenary Guild, a slew of private companies, and the big gorilla, the Order of Merciful Aid. The Order and its knights made it their mission to guard humanity against all threats and they did just that—but on their terms. Both Andrea and I had worked for the Order at some point and both of us had left under less than amicable circumstances.
Our reputations weren’t stellar, so when we got a job, it was because everyone else in town had already shot it down. We were quickly turning into Atlanta’s business of last resort. Still, every successful job was a check mark by our name.
The phone rang, insistent.
Our latest job had come courtesy of the Green Acres Home Owners Association, who had shown up at our door this morning claiming that a giant levitating jellyfish was roaming their suburb and could we please come and get it, because it was eating local cats. Apparently the translucent jellyfish was floating about with half-digested cat bodies inside it, and the neighborhood children were very upset. The cops told them that it wasn’t a priority, since the jellyfish hadn’t eaten any humans yet, and the Mercenary Guild wouldn’t get rid of it for less than a grand. The HOA offered us $200. Nobody in their right mind would do the job for that price.
It took us all damned day. And now we had to properly dispose of the cursed thing, because dealing with the corpses of magical creatures was like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes nothing happened…and sometimes the corpse melted into a puddle of sentient carnivorous protoplasm. Or hatched foot-long blood-sucking leeches.