Company of Angels 02 - The Demoness of Waking Dreams

Company of Angels 02 - The Demoness of Waking Dreams by authors_sort

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covering her breasts with her hands. The water churned around her. The bath was so full that it threatened to slosh over the edge from the sudden movement. “No Rogue demon has ever killed a Guardian.”
    “You underrate your capabilities, my dear. I have faith in you. It will be easy. Here’s what you’re going to do. Let him believe you’re interested in negotiating. Convince him you’ve had enough of your whoring, lying ways. Lure him into your home. And then…”
    She swallowed down fear. “What?”
    His hand shot into the water, seized the wrist of her broken hand. “Don’t play the fool with me, Luciana. I know you. You’re an experienced and heartless killer. You have an entire laboratory full of toys just down the hall. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
    He squeezed the bandaged hand, pressing the broken bone so that it snapped out of place again. When she cried out in pain, he released her, letting her wrist fall back into the bath. This time, the hand began to bleed, seeping crimson into the water.
    “You have one week,” he said.
    “You must be out of your mind,” she said, cradling her hand, trying to stop the bleeding.
    “Serena St. Clair reformed Julian Ascher in one week. He has utterly abandoned the demon hierarchy and has completely changed his ways, unfortunately for us. This task should be infinitely easier. We’re not asking you to change this man’s allegiance. We’re asking you to kill him. Where is your precious poison? You can use that to get rid of him.”
    Her mind flickered toward the gold lipstick tube sitting on the marble vanity.
    Don’t look toward it, she willed herself.
    “Gone,” she said.
    He sauntered over to the vanity, picked up the tube. “You mean it’s not in here?”
    He pocketed the lipstick, walked back over to the bath.
    Then he leaned down to whisper in her ear. “Don’t forget that I know all your tricks.”
    Then he pushed her head under water, holding her there as she thrashed. She tried to hold her breath until it was useless. Water flooded into her lungs, into her stomach. She started to black out, slipping to the edge of consciousness.
    Only then did he let her up.
    He bent down and murmured softly, “Don’t ever forget.”
    “Wait,” she said miserably, coughing out warm water. “I have no more of that poison. How am I supposed to kill the Guardian?”
    “You’ll figure it out. You always do.”
    Then the Archdemon swept out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him as he went.
    Leaving her alone.
    A pawn of men.
    Exactly what she hated being. Had slaved for centuries to get out of.
    She laid her head against the side of the bath, soaked in the unwashable filth of that feeling, and she vowed to herself that she would do whatever it took—she would one day get revenge on them all.
    * * *
     
    Luciana is still sexy, even if she’s a manipulative bitch, Corbin ruminated as he left her palazzo. However, she’s not the only whore in town.
    And then he went to discover what Venice had to offer.
    In this city of excess, so much of what Corbin loved was so close at hand.
    The night was not yet over. And there were infinite possibilities to explore.
    * * *
     
    Out in the middle of the San Marco Basin in front of the Redentore Church, Massimo and Giancarlo waited in the boat. In the bottom of the vessel, the dead body of the girl lay, wrapped neatly in a large swathe of black cloth.
    “This is the appointed spot,” Massimo said, “but we have never attempted a delivery so late. The baronessa usually sacrifices her victims well before the toll of midnight. She’s a very efficient hunter.”
    “Not this year,” Giancarlo said grimly.
    “It was not her fault,” Massimo said.
    “I never said it was,” the other Gatekeeper said quickly, his furtive gaze sliding to Massimo. “Don’t tell her I suggested it might be.”
    They waited.
    There was no sign of the black funerary gondola, no sign of the dark-hooded figure.
    “Satan is

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