Friday, July 11, 2008

Wishes by Stella and Audra Price

Nicodemus Marsh sat on the white leather couch in his apartment, cell phone to his ear, listening to his most recent employer drone on about his assignment. This SOB thinks I don't know how to handle a sweet little human female? Who the hell does he think he's dealing with? A fucking Jenai?

"Look, I'll be able to deal with her. Nobody fucks with me, succubae have given in to me. What makes you think little Miss Janey Duvall is any different?"

"Because she's a pain in the ass. I need this done, Marsh, and I need it done properly."

"And that's why you came to me," Marsh muttered "So, what exactly is the fucking job?"

"I need you to...well, take her into your care. I need her pliable, easily worked. I need her not only willing to do as I ask, but to be happy doing it."

Marsh laughed. He knew there was a reason he was needed. "You need her broken." It wasn't a question.

"Exactly. I'm sure it won't be too difficult for a man of your talents."

Marsh rolled his eyes again. "Indeed. Anything in particular she needs to get done while I'm there? I'm sure I'm not being sent in to break her and because she mouthed off. What's the job?" Marsh got off the couch and grabbed a smoke.

"She's recently taken full control of Duvall, Senior's organization. She controls all the fun things written in blood, if you get my meaning. I don't know if you've heard about my recent trouble in China, but it's proving difficult getting assassins there in a hurry. I need them there two weeks ago. I'm far too pretty to stand in front of a firing squad, and it would ruin a perfectly good shirt. Plus, the fact that the bullets wouldn't kill me might raise a few eyebrows."

The demon walking away from a firing squad was one thing that would turn a few cranks. Not that it mattered to Marsh; Djinn and Demons might share a slight common ancestry, but there was no love lost between the races. Marsh went where the money was and, working with the Demon prince, money was good.

"That's all well and good, Taylor," he said and rubbed his forehead. "Get to what you need me to make sure Janey does, I'm losing patience here."

The demon prince Cassiel, who went by Sean Taylor topside, was ruthless and beyond efficient. Marsh wasn't sure what house he belonged to in the Afterverse, all he knew is that he was well respected and brutal. To be called personally by the demon spoke volumes.

"Like I said, I need you to make sure she supplies me with enough assassins to kill my witnesses. I have my own lawyer, but even he can't get me out of this if there are witnesses."

"Yeah. Simple. Where the hell is she?"

"Rome. Her offices shouldn't be too hard to find." He gave Marsh a rough description of the offices located just outside Vatican City.

"Well, call the little chit and tell her she's getting company. And Taylor, I have carte blanche to deal with her as I see fit, right?" he asked slyly, knowing the demon would agree. As a Djinn, Marsh had certain needs to be met and, if he played his cards right, Janey might play ball...and he'd have a new harem girl.

Oh yeah, she'll play ball. She'll take her three wishes, and then she'll be mine. The thought was heady. It didn't matter if she was pretty or not; there were certain things all women asked for, beauty being one of them. He never begrudged them their vanity; after all, he would be the one reaping the benefits in the long run, and that was the trick. Use his power for his own ends, and get them to make themselves perfect, just for him.

"You may do anything you wish with her; as long as I get those assassins and a much more compliant little Janey."

"You'll get it, demon. A bargain is a bargain."

"Perfect, so I trust you'll enjoy yourself."

"As always, Taylor. You'll hear from me soon enough."

Marsh hung up, stubbed his cigarette out, and looked around his apartment. The place was clean, sterile, as if no one lived there. That was as close to the truth as he could get. He didn't actually live there, he just stopped there between jobs and wanderings, and now he was leaving on yet another of his erotic adventures.

Janey Duvall, huh? he thought with a smirk as he flipped his cell open again. Sweetheart, you don't have one clue what you're in for.

* * *

She sat back in her leather chair and stifled a yawn. The demon was ranting again, and he was very un-sexy when he ranted. Cassiel was well known for his rants, especially the ones aimed at her. Taylor, as he was called by pretty much everyone with whom he dealt with, was a dangerous man to piss off; however, his latest trouble was beyond belief.

Disagreeing with the demon's views, she denied him the power he needed to make it all go away. Partly because it was bad for business to have so many of her assassins in one place, but mostly it was because she didn't like the demon. She imagined the his face turning beet red and steam coming out of his ears every time she denied him. The thought always put a smile on her face.

The warm leather of her short skirt inched up her thigh as she crossed her legs, creating a sensuous feeling. She smiled; it had been years since a man had been that close to her, and not by her choice, either. For some reason men turned tail and ran at the mention of her name. Well, all the clever ones ran. She'd never been one for sleeping with the stupid ones.

Janey Duvall's parents had died when she was very young, her guardianship passing over to the one and only Trent Duvall. Trent was the toughest, meanest man around, and he'd built the organization, which she now ran, from scratch. Sheer force of will and determination put them on top, and although Trent and the organization had recently parted ways, she knew he'd be back. He had to. She wasn't going to be around for much longer to take care of things.

She had cancer, and it was terminal. So far a few select witch spells kept it at bay, but it wouldn't be long before she lost the battle. The tumors had spread rapidly through her body, piggybacking through her bloodstream to find new locations to nestle and grow Her body was killing her, and with all the money in the world there was nothing she could do about it.

She was going to die. It wasn't a prospect that she was thrilled about, but at least she'd made her peace, and would die with her soul. Not that it was much comfort.

"Are you even listening to me?" The demon's smooth, cultured voice startled her back to the phone conversation.

"Of course, I heard every acid edged threat, darling. But, I'm afraid that it just wont do, Taylor. It's impossible to have that many of my people in China by that date. I'm sorry, I can't help you." She grinned.

Well, if there was one good thing about knowing that she was going to die, it was that she could afford to piss off the demon. While she was sure that Cassiel was going to come up with something very creative, it hardly mattered. In fact, she was looking forward to it.

She heard him sigh and could almost feel his exasperation on the other end of the line. "Janey, love, you're failing to see the seriousness of all this."

"Oh, I see it, all right. To be honest, I just don't care enough to try and bail you out. You've never done me any favors, demon, you don't intend to. You just think that you can call me—on my direct line, might I add—and you offer no deal, just expect your name and position will sway me. Frankly, I'm disappointed. Your skills in manipulation are somewhat lacking."

"Would you like me to manipulate you, little girl?" he asked, his tone deathly cold.

She looked at her nails, scraping a little piece of dirt out from under one of them before replying. "Oh, it'd be nice." She smiled. "But, from what I've heard, you're somewhat housebroken recently. How's the wife and kids?"

The prince growled. "I will have those assassins, Janey," he said with all the petulance of a child with no dessert.

She sighed. "Well, I wish you all the best in that, Taylor," she answered caustically.

He chuckled suddenly, causing her to sit up and frown. "Yes, love, maybe you should wish. I will have those people, and I have offered you the easy way out. Now, unfortunately for you, I'm going to devote at least a full quarter of my time to making your life a living hell. There's no need to kill you so quickly, not when there's so many years of suffering…"

She hung up the phone on him and switched off the ringer. "Stupid demon. I'm half way there anyway." She chuckled, picturing the scene and the cursing that the five-hundred-year-old demon was doing right at this very moment. She rolled her eyes and pulled some papers out of a file.

"Might as well get started on the next lot of contracts. They don't sort themselves out." She muttered into the empty office as she began to read.