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Part 4

Paranormal Apprehension Agency

I slammed the glass down hard, it clanked but nothing spilled over the sides. Mostly because my damn glass was empty again. “Wheerrus my driiink?!” I shouted, leaned across the small table. “I orderd a flucking drink an hour ago.”

A soft voice drew my attention away from the demon bartender I was eyeballing. “Liv, honey … you’ve had twelve drinks since you ordered the last ones. Including mine.” Chesca grinned then, her teeth so white they were almost blinding. “Did you mother ever get back to you?” she pressed, leaning closer across the table, flashing impressive cleavage at me.

I blinked and her smile grew. In my inebriated state, I would swear that she was actually enjoying the shit-show drama of the last few hours of my life. Ignoring her for a beat, I leaned down and licked the inside of my cup, needing more of whatever had been inside. Witch blessed vodka maybe. Or tequila. Vodquila? Demon brew had been early on, which was what knocked me on my ass, but the last few drinks had been something else.

“Liv!” Chesca’s voice might be sweet, but the undercurrents in the tone was not. “Are you even listening to me.”

With a sigh, I lifted my head and tried to glare at her. All three blurry versions.

“She didn’t call me balk,” I slurred, as panic tried to claw its way through my foggy mind. I’d called my mum for answers, because she had some explaining to do about how I was the daughter of a fae. “She always calls. She’s dead.” 

Chesca blinked large green eyes at me, her expression somewhat astonished. “I’m sure she’s not dead. I’m supposed to be the dramatic one in this relationship. How should I be dealing with you?”

Two more drinks landed with a thump on the table, an imp hurrying off with the usual scowl across his tiny, wrinkled face. This underground bar catered only for the paranormals in the area, and there were no glamours allowed. You had to show your real face. Which of course was an awesome asset when your roommate and drinking partner was a goddess with a sex drive to rival Hades. Continuous free drinks.

Before I could dive on the drinks, which smelled a lot sweeter than what I’d just licked from the last glass, Chesca scooped them both up and downed them like they were the last liquid on Earth. My chair hit the ground as I lurched to my feet, glaring at her with every ounce of my anger. “Did you just drink my drinks?” I asked quietly, my words not slurred this time.

She grinned at me, and her golden skin started to glow until she was actually emitting a low light from her body. “Fairy wine. It would have rolled you in ten seconds flat.”

Despite not a single word of hers being out of place, I knew immediately that she was wasted. Fairy wine was fucking potent. There was no such thing as fairies, of course, or at least I didn’t think there was, but the wine was a concoction from local witches who swore they were descended from the fae … come to think of it. Maybe those bitc … witches were.

I took my seat again, a sliver of amusement cracking through the hair-trigger temper I was apparently not at all getting under control.

Chesca leaned across to me, her movements sensual. She licked her lips and I swallowed the sigh and eye roll I was desperate to shoot her way. A little fairy wine and she was out to seduce. “Liv,” she purred. “Sweetheart, I have been listening to you wax lyrically about your gorgeous fae for an hour. He’s so annoying. So powerful. So sexy. I really think you should just fuck him and get it out of your system.”

I scraped up the card which was in the centre of the table, fumbling it twice, before managing to wave it in her face. “His sstkd…”

My tongue couldn’t seem to get the words out and I trailed off.

She tilted her head back, golden curls falling down her back. “The demon brew is too strong for you, Liv. You know you can’t handle it.”

She was right, it always messed with me and now I knew why. I wasn’t part demon as I’d expected. I was part mutha-freaking fae. Maybe I should have had the fairy wine like she did. I’d always avoided it because of the way it took away all inhibitions, but … it might actually be my thing.

 Chesca caught my attention when she rose from her chair, the short, tight black dress she had on riding briefly up and flashing the room before she got her shit all covered up again. “I have a great idea,” she told me, her eye twinkling. “Come on, we need to get out of here.”

Sober Chesca had questionable ideas. Drunk Chesca had insane ideas. And right now I was good with either one of those. Despite the “free” drinks, I threw some cash on the table as we left because I didn’t like to owe people. Nothing came without strings attached to it; something I’d learned the hard way.

I stumbled a few times on the stairs, because the bar was specifically designed so the outside looked rundown and unappealing, to deter humans. Witch magic was also used, but some humans were unaffected by magic, so they resorted to good old fashioned grime and neglect to turn them away.

By the time cool night air hit me, my head had stopped spinning, and I was able to walk pretty much like I normally did. Just had a little more swagger.

“Girl, move that delectable ass,” Chesca yelled, already hurrying toward a nearby taxi.

I didn’t question what she was doing, because “bad choices Liv” still controlled my brain, and right now I was keen for any sort of distraction from my fae problem. By the time I got into the car, Chesca had already given the driver directions, so I just leaned back and watched the houses and tall apartment buildings glide by outside the window.

“I’m worried about you.” That quiet statement startled me, and I turned to Chesca. “I’ve never seen you like this.”

My first instinct was the shrug, because I wasn’t the sort of demon … person who shared my problems with the world. Something my therapist loved to pick at whenever we had a session. She threw around words like “suppressed emotions” and “stunted emotional growth.” What. Ever. Name one person who wasn’t emotionally stunted.

Chesca nudged me and I let out a sigh. “I feel like my entire world has just been turned upside down. I mean … what if someone told you that you were no longer a succubus. Instead, you were descended from a sea-witch or something.”

Chesca snorted, and both of our gazes travelled down the long length of her voluptuous bodies. Yeah, those slimy water dwellers had been a bad example to use.

“I understand,” she said, reaching out and taking my hand. Her thumb brushed across my skin for a moment and then she let me go. “You’ve lost your identity. Up until today, you were Liv, badass demon witch, with a few unusual quirks, a penchant for rune magic that is second to none, and a right hook that should be feared by everyone.”

“And now I’m none of those things,” I sighed again, wallowing.

Chesca actually laughed and it startled me so much that I jerked my head in her direction. “Silly girl, you’re still all of those things. Except maybe the demon. But substitute demon for fae and what is the real difference? You’re the exact same person you were before this Archer showed up on your doorstep, and no matter what you learn in the Otherworld, you’ll still be the exact same person you’ve always been. You know I love you. If you ever decide you want to forsake the male oriented love life and shack up with a semi-used succubus, you only have to say the word.”

A smile spread across my face before I could stop it. Chesca was open to all sexes, races, and types of paranormal. She said you fell in lust with a person, not with a sex. But for all of her sexy attributes, I could never see myself with a woman. Her words though, were comforting.

“I love you, too, and most of your brats.”

“They love you as well,” she snort-laughed. “Which was fairly obvious by the way I had to stop them going to war to save you from the scary man who could walk out of a ‘Liv rune’.”

Archer was scary, there was no denying that. And I wasn’t sure it was in my best interest to get involved with him. With whatever scheme he had going to destroy this stone. So why the fuck couldn’t I get him out of my head?

I hadn’t been paying attention to the outside scenery for a while, so I was astonished when I realised that we had entered Palm Beach. The Gold Coast highway was lit up, lots of people out and about in the various restaurants which lined the street. “Chesca,” I said slowly. “What are you doing?”

She just flashed me a smile, her eyes almost luminescent in the dark cab. The fairy wine was still in her system, which meant that I was probably going to regret my decision to tag along. I didn’t feel a sliver of surprise when we turned into Jefferson Lane. The narrow street was crowded with cars, which made it difficult to get through, so the taxi ended up dropping us near one end. Chesca paid, and then we were left standing in our heels and dresses on the side of the road. “What the hell are we doing here?” I hissed at her, leaning in close. “Archer is a renowned assassin. His name is whispered in the darkness, designed to strike fear into the hearts of paranormals everywhere. So why in all of Lucifer’s hell, would you bring us to his house?”

She didn’t answer, just reached out and grabbed my arm to drag me along. I knew I should have fought her harder, tried to stop her, but a part of me wanted to see his where he lived. Wanted to be close to all of that magnetism again. Because there was something about him which got under my skin. And maybe it was the demon brew, or maybe I was as bad as Chesca, but suddenly I was the one dragging her.

Somehow we both made it to the imposing front gates of Archer’s Jefferson residence without falling on our faces. I stared up at the beach-front, three story mansion. It was imposing, there was no other way to put it. The weatherboard walls were white and grey—Hamptons style. Like rich rich Hamptons.

“Girl…” Chesca let out a low whistle. “This has got to be worth twenty mill, easy.”

I nodded. “Yep. And I have a brilliant idea to match your brilliant idea now.”

Chesca reached out and grabbed my hand, almost bouncing on the spot. “I was just going to suggest we TP his house. It’s the least he deserves after he almost killed you. But I know your idea is going to be better, so let’s go with that.”

My eyes went wide as I angled my head back in astonishment. “Are you twelve? That’s seriously what you wanted to do?”

Her nose wrinkled as she turned her gaze back to his gate. “It was a great idea.”

“Terrible fucking idea,” I told her.

She stuck her tongue out at me. “Okay, genius, I’ve already admitted your plan will be better … and … what is your plan?”

Reaching out, I stopped just short of touching the white gate. There was no immediate feel of energy across it, which probably meant that this place was not warded. Or at least not warded in a way that was going to kill us if we decided to have a little fun. “Don’t you think this place could use a little makeover,” I said, my lips twitching. “A few runes in the right place, and we could really do something special with it for Archer.”

Chesca’s returning smile could have lit up a stadium. “Have I told you lately how much I freaking love you? You’ve always been so cautious with your crazy quirky power, and finally … finally you’re going to use it for good.”

I snorted. “Your idea of good and my idea of good might be vastly different. But yes, I am going to use my “quirky power” as you so delicately put it.”

My quirks were not something I advertised. The way I could slightly manipulate runes and create something which was not documented in any demonlaw, or in any history of the symbols. Runes were set, they were a language and had very specific uses. If you wanted to create fire, you used Firenzo, the specific rune for that. Freezing the ground, you used a Licesta rune. But say something like … bringing people back from the dead—there was no rune for that.

Except I had done it once. By accident. Eight years ago I’d been drinking in a cemetery, with two witch friends. We’d been tracing runes, and I jokingly decided to join two together. Usually that would result in nothing … neither rune should have worked when joined. Except they had, and … then there had been a little situation which required a necromancer.

That night I’d lost two friends—scared them out of my life. I also figured out the full level of freak I was rocking. Luckily no one else knew it was me, and my former friends didn’t talk, so I ended up sliding under the radar.

My mother had warned me not to mess with rune magic, that it was beyond my understanding, and that one day I might create something that would get a lot of people killed. I’d mostly listened to her.

Standing there, staring up at Archer’s house, I wondered if maybe this skill I had was something to do with my father. With the fae side I didn’t know about until today. Would he know how to train my power?

As I straightened, I knew I was going to take his offer. If I was being honest, that decision had been made long before I found myself drinking demon brew in a paranormal bar.

Now it was just time to get his attention first, and a little payback for the almost killing me incident.