Sneak Peek: The Demon You Trust

Sneak Peek: The Demon You Trust

Book 1: Magical Elite

Ellie surged back to consciousness as Tomas’s voice jerked her out of her oblivion.

With a groan, she rolled onto her side, and then froze when she saw the man crouched beside her, dripping with sweat. Dirt and soot streaked his face, and dark shadows hid in the crevices of his cheeks. He was wearing a custom suit, but it was torn, and there was a charred hole in the front of his suit, through his shirt, showing newly healing skin.

Tomas nodded to her. “Ellie, meet your partner, Jack D’Amore. Jack, this is Ellie Locke.”

The man turned his head toward her, and the look he gave her was one of utter exhaustion, of pain so deep she felt her own heart ache. She knew what that felt like. She’d been there, too. He didn’t look like a potential partner. He looked like someone who might disintegrate into the earth in a matter of moments. His skin had a grayish tint, and his highly-toned muscles were trembling, as if he just fought the battle of his life. She cleared her throat. “Um, hi.”

His eyes narrowed, but he managed a curt nod before turning back to Tomas. “What the fuck’s going on, Van Helsing?”

Tomas waved his hand at the room. “How many lockers do you see?”

Ellie looked around as she pulled herself to her feet. Her legs were still shaking, but at least she was upright now. There were dozens of old metal lockers, like it was the changing room at the local Y. Most of the lockers were dented and charred, and a few even had what appeared to be stab wounds in them. “I don’t know. A hundred?”

“A hundred.” Tomas’s face flickered and he walked across the room, pausing at one that had a rose engraved in the metal. “Two hundred years ago, there were thousands working world-wide under the Van Helsing banner. Two years ago, there were seventy-six badasses on my staff. Today?” He turned back to them. “Two rookies with less than three minutes experience between the two of them.”

Jack lunged to his feet, staggering slightly. “What are you talking about?”

“Crime fighting,” Ellie said. “He said something about us being some sort of elite magical squad that goes after bad guys.”

“Magical Elite,” Tomas said. “The agency is called The Magical Elite.”

“Right. Like I said.” Ellie rubbed her chest, grimacing at the soreness of her throat. How close had Ronaldo been to strangling her before Tomas had taken her out. And she was supposed to be some Magical Elite? Seriously? There literally could not be something she was less qualified for. “What exactly happened to the other seventy-six agents?”

“Or the other thousands,” Jack added.

“Dead,” Tomas said.

“Dead?” she repeated. Yeah, that sounded good. “What happened?”

Jack braced himself on a locker as he slowly peeled off his suit jacket, wincing as if every move hurt. “Give me the twenty-second low-down on what I signed up for.”

Tomas handed Jack one of the same business cards that he’d given Ellie. “I don’t have time to go into all the details, so I’ll give you the short version. You both just signed up for my team. You get to fight bad guys, save the world, that kind of shit. But due to a slight mishap a few years ago, there’s a psychopath at large who’s a little cranky, and he’s made it his mission to kill every single agent on my staff. He’s wiped out the team, so you guys are all that’s left.”

Ellie stared at him. “Wait a sec. I already have people trying to kill me. You’re adding more?”

Tomas nodded. “At least this one’s not personal. Always a bonus there.”

Her stomach churned and she sank to a nearby bench. “Why on earth did you pick me for this kind of job? I’m not elite.”

“No, you’re definitely not,” Tomas agreed, without adding why she’d gotten the nod.

Because that was confidence-boosting.

Jack dropped his charred jacket on the floor, and rolled up his sleeves. His arms were ripped with muscles that made her wonder what had been strong enough to knock him down so badly. His voice was even and contained, as if he weren’t at all rattled by what had just been dumped on them. “So, this bad guy has taken out seventy-six highly-skilled agents in the last two years, and we’re the ones who are going to stop him?”

Tomas grimaced. “Or die trying, yeah.”

Jack swore under his breath. “I don’t have time to die,” he said.

“I agree with Jack.” She forced herself to her feet. “Look Tomas, I don’t even have any powers. I’m a nothing.”

“Fuck that,” Jack interrupted her. “No one’s a nothing.” He looked at Tomas. “But Ellie has a point. Why us?”

Tomas paused, studying them both, as if he were trying to decide how to answer that. Hello? Wasn’t this supposed to be the moment when Tomas declared that she and Jack were special, gifted, superstars who just hadn’t tapped into their inner amazingness yet?

But he didn’t. He just said nothing.

“The truth,” Jack said.

Tomas finally met Jack’s gaze, and then he looked at Ellie. “The truth is that no one will take the gig. Everyone on my team has died, and I had some of the best. No one is willing to step up.” He shrugged. “I was watching the waiver wires and knew you two were going to die, and that it was going to be a crappy time for you to die, given that you were trying to protect someone you loved, so I figured you’d choose me over death.”

Ellie stared at him, hope deflating from her chest. “So, we’re not super qualified with hidden powers we don’t know about?”

“You’re here,” Tomas said. “That makes you qualified.”

“Oh, wow.” Ellie decided that sitting was a good option after all, and she sank back down to the bench.

Jack had a slightly more colorful way of expressing the sentiment, and she agreed with the litany of epithets he unleashed.

“What he said.” She pointed to him.

“I decline the assignment,” Jack added. “I have to get home to my daughter.”

Tomas shook his head. “You can’t do that. You’re under contract.”

“I’m done.” Jack began to walk toward the door.

“He’ll find you,” Tomas said. “You’re already tagged as one of mine. Even if I could release you from the contract, which I won’t, he will find you. He’s already hunting you.”

Jack stopped with his hand on the door knob, and Ellie jumped to her feet, her heartrate skyrocketing as she quickly looked around to see if any oogly-boogly bad guy was showing his face.

Jack slowly turned, his face deadly calm. “You’re a bastard.”

Tomas’s amusement faded, and he strode across the room. “I’m trying to save the world so future generations will be able to walk down the street without being turned into a burned-out pile of ashes.” He caught the half-demon around the throat and slammed him up against the wall. “I’m not the bastard,” he said. “I’m the world’s last fucking hope, and now, you are too. Got it?”

“Then you do it,” Jack spit out. “You go save the world.”

Tomas’s face darkened. “I would do it in a heartbeat, but I can’t. So, it has to be you.” His voice was hard, daring Jack to question him.

Ellie could feel Tomas’s torment, and she felt his intensity. He believed in his mission with all his soul. His frustration at having to rely on her and Jack to do it was so thick she could almost touch it. She didn’t know why he couldn’t do it himself, but it was clearly a point of extreme frustration. Dammit. She didn’t want to feel bad for him. She didn’t want this assignment!

But the moment she had that thought, she realized it was a lie.

She did want this job. She didn’t want to die, but she wanted to do it. To succeed. To become something. To matter. To become strong enough to fight her own battles and save herself and her sister on her own. An elite crime-fighting badass? Come on. Who wouldn’t want that?

Smoke began to fill the air around the two men, and it kind of looked like it was drifting from Jack’s head. “Yeah, that’s it,” Tomas said. “Let it out, Jack. You’re gonna need all that shit to bring down the Trick.”

Shock rippled across Jack’s face, and more smoke filled the air. “You want me to go demon to save the world?”

She blinked. Um, hello. Demon?

“Yeah, it’s the only way.”

“No. Fucking. Way.” Jack closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. “I’m not going to go demon,” he gritted out. “It’s too dangerous.”

Tomas sighed. “Then you’ll die.”

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