Bring It On [Retrievers Series Book 3] [Secure]
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by Laura Anne Gilman
Description: Nobody said juggling a career and a relationship would be easy ... Wren Valere used to have a simple life. Her partner Sergei would negotiate the terms of the Retrieval--all right, the theft--and she would use her magical Talent to carry it out. Paycheck deposited, on to the next job. Now? Her relationship with Sergei is even more complicated (sex will do that). Her fellow lonejacks are trying to organize against the Mage's Council. The nonhuman population of Manhattan is getting fed up with being ignored and abused. And the Council? Well, they have an agenda of their own, and it's not one the lonejacks are going to like. And Sergei is far too involved with the Silence, his former employers, for Wren's liking. When it comes down to choosing sides, the first rule of the lonejack credo is "Don't get involved." But when friends are in danger, and the city you love is at risk, sometimes getting into the thick of things is all you can do....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/LUNA,
eBookwise Release Date: July 2006
76 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [617 KB]
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The demon in her kitchen was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
"How the hell did things get so bad, so fast?" Wren asked him, staring down at the sheets of paper on the table in front of her. Nothing to make her break into a cold sweat, on first or even second glance. It was just paper. Nice paper, but nothing expensive. Three double-spaced sheets, neatly typewritten, with decent margins. It had arrived in a manila envelope with her name written on the front in dark blue ink, carried in a courier bag slung over the shoulder of the demon, who had handed it to her wordlessly and then gone to investigate the innards of her refrigerator.
"Do you really want me to answer that?" the demon asked now, curious. The butter knife looked odd in his clawed paw, as though he should not be able to handle it, but he wielded the dull blade with surprising dexterity.
"Only if you're going to reassure me that everything's peaches, and the city's about to break out into spontaneous song and dance," she said. "And I don't mean West Side Story kind of dancing, either."
She forced her eyes away from the letter, and looked at her companion. There was a smear of jelly on the counter, and another one in his coarse white fur. And he had used the last of the peanut butter. So much for a midday snack. She sighed, and looked away again. Other than that, it was the kind of late autumn day that Wren Valere loved the most: cool and crisp, the sky a bright blue, what little of it she could see out her kitchen window and past the neighboring buildings. Almost like Mother Nature was apologizing for the hell she had put everyone through over the summer.
And, as always, thoughts of that summer made Wren close her eyes and take a moment to center and ground, emotionally.
The entire summer had sucked. The deal with the devil that her business partner Sergei had made with his former employers to keep her safe when the Council of Mages had threatened her and her livelihood had come back to haunt them—literally. The Silence—a group of mysterious do-gooders with a sizable checkbook—had offered what had seemed like a lifesaver of a job, but—
Her grounding faltered, then came back.
Lee's death during that job hadn't been her fault, no. But it was her responsibility. And the simple fact of it made her core—the inner storehouse of magic that every Talent carried within them, like a power pack—seethe under the weight of the guilt she carried. It felt like snakes in her gut, tendrils in her brain. It felt like—
A furry, leather-palmed paw struck the side of her face, not as hard as it might have, but harder than a love tap.
"What the hell was that for?" she asked, her hand going to her face as though expecting to feel blood, or at least heat rising from the skin. Thankfully, he'd kept his long, curved black claws away from delicate human flesh.
"Self-pity." The demon climbed back onto his chair, bringing his sandwich with him and watching her with those dark red eyes that were the mark of his breed. "Doesn't look good on you."
"Great. The entire lonejack community is freaking out over what might or might not be Council-directed attacks on them, the fatae are claiming that humans are targeting them, my love life is going seriously weird, and I'm getting slapped for self-pity by a four foot tall polar bear with attitude. Who has jelly in his fur."
P.B. took a bite out of his lunch, and swallowed, ignoring her last crack. "You're wallowing, Valere. Lee's dead. He's gone. Move on, or you're going to be distracted at the wrong time, and get yourself dead, too." He relented, only a little bit. "Damn it, I liked him, too. I trusted him."
"You didn't get him killed."
That made her look up and meet his gaze.
She had known the demon presently sitting in her kitchen for years. Almost ten, in fact. In all that time, he had been effective in his job as courier of privy information and items, witty in his comments, and aggressive in his refusal to get involved in anything other than his own life. In short, the perfect lonejack, even if he was a fatae, one of the nonhumans who were part of the Cosa Nostradamus, the magical community.
All that had changed over the past six months, when P.B. had somehow, for some reason, gotten tangled up in the vigilante attacks against other fatae; human vigilantes, preaching hate with guns and bats.
Wren had friends among the fatae, more than just this one demon. She was ashamed now to admit that she had shrugged the first attacks off as random violence; not acceptable, but normal enough. Prejudice happened. Violence happened. That was life, unfortunately. She had been angry—but not proactive. The question of who these humans were affiliated with, how they knew about the fatae: those things hadn't been dealt with the moment the severity of and prep behind the attacks became clear. The fact that she had been ears-deep in a job was no excuse.
She had been worried enough to ask her friend Lee to keep an eye on the demon when she and Sergei had left for Italy to Retrieve the Nescanni parchment, the "little job" the Silence had hired them for. But that had been just to keep her friends out of trouble. P.B. had then inveigled Lee into helping him with his investigation into the human vigilantes who seemed to be targeting the non-human population. That investigation had led to the two of them meeting with various fatae leaders, trying to prevent the anger against humans—specifically, Talents—from growing out of control. What had been a relatively simple case of hate crimes then blossomed into a potential Cosa-wide chasm.
Copyright © 2006 by Laura Anne Gilman.