Coming June 30, 2020

Prologue

Sorrel

 

The cotton fabric of my bohemian skirt stirred against my legs as I casually checked my exits. I was there to collect the details on a freelance job, but that didn’t mean I had trust in the people I’d be working for.

Their agent— who couldn’t catch on to the fact I wasn’t listening— was young. Judging by the softness of his scales I’d have to guess at him being only about fifty. And that was considered barely a blink for a dragon… Not that this kid would have spent much time as his true self growing up.

Exit points clear, I sighed. If he’d been older, he might have realized sooner he was boring the tits off me.

“Look, Love,” I interrupted when he finally stopped to take a breath.

His mouth snapped shut for a moment, and I got the impression not many people had the balls to cut him off before now. Patience running thin, I reached for the paper in front of him, but he had the gall to snatch it out of reach and scowled at me. Not deterred by his attitude, I huffed “I get it. Go in, get caught, do some eavesdropping, report to you in ten days, and then I’ll get paid.”

His expressionless stare was irritating, but at least he’d finally stopped talking.

“Do I get to take the brief?” I pressed after a few long seconds of him silently staring at me.

His response was to smirk, fold the paper, and tuck it into the inside pocket of his cheap suit jacket.

The agents loved it, this important person facade. The reality though spoke of a completely different story. They were the most cowed in the magical society. We all lived under the Assembly rule, but these guys had traded everything for a shit suit and imagined power.

The Assembly was the name the elders of the ancient race—more collectively known as Fae—had given themselves. Infinitely powerful, they ruled the world, not that the Humans had any idea. I’d worked for them. Spied. Lied. Call it what you want, but I needed money and it was easier for me to make the amount required by applying for whatever clandestine activities they had out for tender than to sell snake oil to humans.

If I took the little shit away from the building and the protection he thought it offered, I knew he’d piss his pants.

With a roll of my eyes I turned for the door. “Fine. I want my money in Veil currency, coins.”

“Have a good day, Miss Bishop, and thank you for your assistance.”

That scripted farewell, combined with the arrogance of his tone, was almost as annoying as his blank stare. As though running a one-room recruitment office in New York was some kind of career goal.

“Any time, Love. Have a great day,” I called as I left the office, not bothering to close the door behind me.

Conceited little prick.

Everyone hated Dragonkin, and I was no exception, but that kid took the biscuit.

The hate directed at them wasn’t because of their position within the Assembly, everyone knew it was a superficial role. It was because they willingly sold themselves out and condemned the rest of us at the same time.

I understood why they’d placed such stringent controls, and most of the provisions I agreed with, but some of them were baseless. Some of them broke the very people they were supposed to protect.

All that aside, though, there was something sinister about the Assembly that I couldn’t put my finger on. I strode past the reception desk paying no attention to the receptionist and lifted my skirt as I took the stairs. That building was so dark and miserable I couldn’t wait to leave; there was no way I was waiting for the lift.

Pushing through the large glass door, I stepped out onto 5th Avenue and breathed a sigh of relief at the feel of the sun warming my face. Pimping myself out to the Assembly was a new low for me, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

I was so close to reaching my goal, I couldn’t justify it taking yet another year to get there. I had everything except the Phoenix tears, ceremonial dagger, and the spell.

Oh. And the name.

But I was close. A ten-day surveillance mission on a human army base was a small price to pay for the completion of my summoning. It had been fourteen years in the making, I wasn’t prepared to make it to fifteen with no results.

Carrie Whitethorne

Carlisle

United Kingdom

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