“Kira,” Demoz rose to his feet as they entered. “You do know how to make an entrance.”
“You know what they say, Demoz. If you’re going to do it, do it in style.”
“True, true.” The big man regarded her, his skin black as tires and just as thick. If the Michelin Tire Man had been dipped in tar—and dressed by Armani—Demoz would be his twin. The only traces of color on his plump body were the thin silver stripes in the fabric of his very expensive suit.
“Tell me what’s going on. It’s not like you to be so blatant when you visit. You are obviously on a mission. What information are you looking for today?”
“You already know why I’m here,” she said, keeping a tight lock on her mental shields. It was one thing to allow Demoz to feed off the emotional reaction she caused; it was quite another to let him feed off her directly. If she showed any sort of expressive display, he’d work the gap until it opened wide and the feelings flowed freely—like a blood vampire sending anticoagulants into a vein.
“I can do many things, Kira, but reading the thoughts behind your gorgeous brown eyes isn’t one of them. Our usual meetings happen on Thursdays. What couldn’t wait until then?”
“The same as always. Information.”
Demoz raised an eyebrow, his steel-gray eyes curious, guarded. “What information couldn’t wait until our regular meeting?”
“Someone unleashed a seeker demon tonight.”
“A seeker demon?”
“Yeah.” Kira had noted the slight widening of his eyes before he’d spoken. Of course Demoz knew something. Demoz always knew something. She tried a test. “The Commission lost a handler tonight.”
“How terrible for you,” Demoz clucked, his sympathetic tone completely at odds with the assessing glint of his eyes. “I felt the moment of his passing. A tragedy. Was it someone you knew?”
“This is my territory,” Kira continued, ignoring his question. “A seeker demon killed the handler, but none of the skanks around here are strong enough to manage a seeker demon, are they?”
“Of course not, which makes me wonder if your information is indeed correct.”
“It’s an unimpeachable source,” Kira stated. “Who’s strong enough to control a seeker demon, Demoz?”
“I don’t know.”
“Really?” She didn’t bother to hide her sarcasm. “Are you telling me that when you felt the moment of his passing, you knew he was a male handler but you couldn’t tell it was slain by the hands of a seeker demon? You’re getting sloppy in your old age.”
The vampire’s eyes tightened. “I haven’t reached old age yet.”
“But you certainly want to, right?” It wasn’t a threat, not really.
“Kira, you’re the most pragmatic of the Chasers I’ve known. I have little doubt that you’d dispatch me if my usefulness waned.”
“Not without a reason.” She cocked her head, studying the outwardly complacent vampire. “Is there a reason?”
“Hardly. I enjoy life too much to get on the wrong side of any of my clients.”
Kira noted his hesitation. “But?”
“But.” Demoz sighed. “Something’s going on. I don’t yet know what it is, but all signs point to a heavy hitter coming to town.”
Demoz actually looked over his shoulder, as if her saying the word would call the being out. He nodded.
“What do the Fallen want? Why is one of them here in its Avatar host?”
“They’re tracking something. No one will say what or who it is, but they’ve got grunts all over the place looking for information. All I do know is that your opposition’s nervous and when they get nervous—”
“Bad shit happens.” She suppressed a sigh. “The question is, how bad is bad?”
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